Do you want a bigger vocabulary? For most entrepreneurs and business leaders, the answer is yes. It’s embarrassing to admit that you don’t understand a word someone else has used. Not admitting it can lead to miscommunication, or worse.
You likely don’t have the time to sign up for extra classes or the patience to read through the dictionary in order to learn words you don’t know. But if you have a smartphone and five free minutes a day, there’s a wide range of mobile apps to help you learn new words.
Here are some of the best free apps that you can use for five minutes a day to improve your vocabulary, and have some fun at the same time.
1. Magoosh Vocabulary Builder
This app is designed to help people prepare for the GRE or GMAT admissions tests. But even if you’re not headed to graduate school, this app offers quick quizzes at different vocabulary levels. You can try out the quizzes on the Magoosh website before downloading the app. Android and iOS.
2. Word to Word
For those who get bored easily, Word to Word is actually seven different word games. All will improve your vocabulary by having you match words to other words (which could be synonyms, antonyms, or simply associations, such as “tickle” and “laugh.”) For Android and iOS.
3. 7 Little Words
Like Wordle, this app offers only one game per day. 7 Little Words offers clues and groups of several letters that you put together to make seven different words. As with Word to Word, you can play it on the website to test it out before downloading the app. For Android and iOS.
4. Words With Friends
Unless you either have no smartphone or no friends, you’ve probably been invited to play this mobile game, which is based on Scrabble (although serious players of either game are quick to point out their differences). There’s a reason Words With Friends is so popular–it allows you to play and socialize at the same time. It’s also a great way to build your vocabulary because being able to find and deploy obscure words is key to winning this game. For Android and iOS.
5. Vocab Genius
This app is designed to be less like a game and more like a serious study aid. It’s designed using cognitive science and claims to create a personalized set of flash cards that will help you learn more words faster than with other methods. Available for iOS at the Apple App Store, and can be side-loaded (downloaded and installed as an apk file) for Android.
7. Penny Dell Crosswords
Doing crossword puzzles is a great way to expand your vocabulary and have fun at the same time. Penny Dell Crosswords are free, with new puzzles every day, including a pop culture edition if you’re trying to learn pop culture. They’re a great place to start. For Android and iOS.
If you want something a bit more challenging and you don’t mind paying for your puzzles, the New York Times’ puzzle collection can be lots of fun. Or you can try the Guardian puzzle app, which I’m currently addicted to, because I have a weakness for cryptic puzzles. You can also play both the Times‘ and the Guardian’s puzzle on their websites for free.
And then, of course, there’s Wordle, the game that gives you six tries to identify a single word each day that is a recent fad. It’s limited to common five-letter words, and it’s a (mobile-friendly) website, not an app. So strictly speaking, it doesn’t belong on this list. Then again, it’s fun–and if you haven’t played it, you might want to see what all the fuss is about.