What’s The Word?

Readers of newspapers may come across words from time to time that are unfamiliar. The meaning of  “new” words can be guessed from the way the word is used in the sentence or paragraph.  This process is often referred to as the meaning of a word in “context.”  It’s a good idea to confirm the meaning of new words through the use of a dictionary.  By reading the newspaper daily, using context clues to “guess” meanings of news words and confirming the precise definition of a new word, a person’s vocabulary can improve.


From any front page of a section of your newspaper locate five words which are unfamiliar to you.  These may be words you’ve seen used before, but you’re still not sure of the meaning.

Write the words on a piece of paper using the following headings:

New Word

Guess (based on context)

Dictionary Definition

Use context clues to make an educated or logical “guess” of each word’s definition.

Use a dictionary to check your “guess.”  If your original guess was incorrect, write the most appropriate (according to the way the word was used in the newspaper) under the dictionary definition on your piece of paper.

Taken from the NIE guide, Life Skills in the News – Language and Communication by Anne West and distributed by the NIE Institute.