Vocabbett - Fun Vocabulary & History Stories

Vocabbett - Fun Vocabulary & History Stories

Painlessly improve your vocabulary for the SAT, ACT, and life itself with the Vocabbett podcast! Utilizing research-backed, story-based strategies, host Erica Abbett will walk you through the best tips and tricks for painlessly improving your vocabulary for a stress-free test day. Covering everything from etymology (a fancy word for "Greek and Latin roots") to the best day to take the test (it's probably not what you think!), the Vocabbett podcast promises to be uniquely entertaining and educational. If you're ready to painlessly improve your vocabulary and English skills, let's dive in!


February 25, 2021 6 min

After around 20 episodes, season 2 of the Vocabbett podcast is coming to a close!

I’d gladly continue it forever, but I was recently accepted to UCSD’s college counseling program. Since they operate on a quarterly system, I’m able to start my first class in March!

I honestly don’t know exactly how the college counseling certificate will play into the future of Vocabbett, but as I discuss in the podcast, I do want to turn Vocabbett ...

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If you’ve seen The Durrells in Corfu, you’ll undoubtedly remember the slightly dotty daughter in the series, Margo.

When I finished the show (a slightly heartbreaking moment – I hope they release a new season in the future!), I was exceptionally curious about what happened next for the family. Though the show offers a fictionalized account of the Durrells’ lives, the characters were based on real people. To think of them in the clu...

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February 16, 2021 10 min

We've all heard of Cleopatra, but how many people know she had a little sister -- and a pretty remarkable one at that?

Arsinoe IV was about ten years younger than Cleopatra, but my guess is that, had their ages been reversed, we'd all know Arsinoe and it would be, "Cleopatra who?"

At around 12 years old, she was commanding an army and outwitting Julius Caesar!

Listen to episode 74 of the Vocabbett podcast to ...

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When most of us think of suffragettes (a.k.a. women who fought for the right to vote), we think of Susan B. Anthony or Emmeline Pankhurst.

We should, however, also be thinking about the extraordinary Nazek al-Abid!

In the latest installment in our “forgotten women” mini-series, we explore the story of this remarkable woman. Exiled countless times for voicing (and acting upon) her beliefs, she never stopped fighting.

Get the whole s...

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“18th century heiress turned pirate” may sound like the tagline of a cheesy romance novel, but remarkably, it’s a fairly accurate description of the indomitable Anne Bonny.

A few episodes into our “Forgotten Women” mini-series -- where I sneakily boost your vocabulary by telling you about some people you probably didn’t learn about in school -- we’re shedding light on one of the most famous female pirates from the so-called “Golden...

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February 4, 2021 5 min

If you’re an Anglophile (lover of the English) like me, you’ve probably heard of Boudica, the warrior queen who took on the Romans.

But did you know that there’s *another* British warrior queen with an equally fascinating tale?

Around the 8th century, Viking raiders were taking over regions of England left and right. Alfred the Great dreamed of not only fighting them off, but uniting England under one king. Sadly, he died before se...

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“Mary had a little lamb…”

Be honest. Did you go, “little lamb” again after you read that?

Those five words are so catchy, they were the first words Thomas Edison ever recorded in the phonograph (making them the first words ever recorded on a machine). Not only that, but they were also some of the first words Alexander Graham Bell spoke into the telephone!

It’s astonishing to me that a mere century (or so) after her death, Sarah Jos...

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January 28, 2021 4 min

I don’t remember the first time I heard the word “kudos,” but I distinctly remember thinking that it was 1970’s slang.

How wrong I was! I only found out last week, though, that “kudos” goes all the way back to the days of Homer, meaning “magical glory” in ancient Greek.

This means, if someone says, “kudos, you did a great job at the game,” the original meaning was more like, “Magical glory! Man, you’ve been blessed by the gods. Gre...

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January 26, 2021 3 min

Amid the recent inauguration news, I kept hearing the word “rostrum.”

“As he approaches the rostrum tomorrow…”

“Donald Trump began his term from the same rostrum…”

“In his inaugural address Wednesday, delivered from a rostrum…”

Obviously this word wasn’t crucial to my understanding of what was happening, but being the inquisitive sort, I needed to know all about it.

A rostrum is basically a podium. There are subtle differences, b...

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With colleges dropping the SAT left and right — and the recent announcement that they’re dropping the essay and subject tests — it’s normal to feel a reluctant pang of sympathy for a dying rite of passage.

Here’s the thing, though: The College Board (the organization that runs the SAT) is stronger than ever.

Most people don’t know that the AP program is also managed by The College Board, so while people celebrate the end of a stand...

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January 19, 2021 5 min

Imagine not knowing how to say that you're tired. It wouldn't make sense, right?

And yet there's an emotion that most of us experience all the time, whether we want to or not...but we awkwardly don't name it. 

If you don't know the word "schadenfreude," you're not alone. In fact, the very history of this emotion is full of people who didn't want to bring it into the English language!


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You may already know that what we in the U.S. call “soccer,” most of the rest of the world refers to as “football.”

But do you know why we call it soccer when almost no one else does? Is it just some cowboy American thing? A refusal to go with the flow?

The story behind the soccer vs. football debate is fascinating, and I share it in episode 65 of the Vocabbett podcast! Take a listen below or on your favorite podcast player.

Until ...

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January 12, 2021 8 min

Blatherskite - “A person who talks at great length without saying much of sense.” Basically, a blatherer.

What a great word. Definitely my favorite word du jour.

Do you know what makes this word even better? The amazing route it took to reach our fair shores.

Originally a pseudo-Scottish insult, the word became popular through a song, Maggie Lauder, that was popular with American troops during the Revolutionary War!

You’ve GOT to l...

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January 7, 2021 10 min

If you're a fan of Greek history, you're probably familiar with the story of Theseus and the minotaur.

But did you know that the word "academy" traces its roots all the way back to that story?

To be more specific, "academies" are etymologically named in honor of the man who saved Helen of Troy from having to become Theseus' wife!

We think of Theseus as this great Greek hero, but if you've ever...

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The WORD, get it? Haha, wordplay.

You tend to hear the word "anecdote" in two contexts these days. Either it's a fancy stand-in for "story," or it's a disparaging adjective, as in, "you only have anecdotal evidence."

But did you know the root of the word anecdote is far more salacious? It goes back to the juiciest tell-all novel of the Byzantine empire, when a respected historian basically publi...

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December 31, 2020 3 min

We're all probably familiar with the legends of werewolves and madmen emerging from the dark on a full moon...but did you know that this legend is so pervasive, it actually made an impact on the English language?

Yes, my friends. The word "lunatic," among others, is directly pulled by the Latin root luna, for moon!

In episode 63 of the Vocabbett podcast, I dive into some of the theories as to why this occurred, and...

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December 29, 2020 11 min
Have you ever looked at the calendar and thought, “Well, that makes no sense”?
  • October starts with “oct,” but it’s not the 8th month.
  • November starts with “nov,” but it’s not the 9th month.
  • December starts with “dec,” but it’s not the 10th month.
  • I always encourage people to pay attention to the Greek and Latin roots, but sometimes, they can mislead you! That’s why stories are such a great (and important) part of improving your vocab...

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    October 13, 2020 1 min

    After a hot 59 episodes, it’s time to put the Vocabbett podcast on hiatus to write book 2!

    The podcast WILL be back. I LOVE doing it; I just need all the creative energy focused on one goal at the moment.

    Thanks for tuning in! You can listen to the entire backlist at vocabbett.com/season-1.

    See you in a bit!

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    We’ve talked ideasoutlineswriting tips, and more in this writing series. But amid the technical tips, one very important component of writing can get overlooked: love of the craft.

    If you want to be a writer, you must enjoy writing!

    I’ve mentioned before that this series is modeled after the writing process of Barbara Mertz a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters. I was able to research her creative process for my Master’s, and do you know wha...

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    October 6, 2020 4 min

    The resounding writing advice today tends to be, “Just get the words on paper. You can edit it later. You can’t edit a blank page. All first drafts are garbage anyway…Just get your word count and keep going!”

    I can virtually guarantee that if you take this approach with essays, you’ll end up with a garbage product or you’ll have to re-do it.

    For books? Well, my experience is largely the same. The editing process is BRUTAL when you ...

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