Strategies for Finding the Meaning of an Unknown Word

  • To determine the meaning of an unknown word:

    • Is there a familiar prefix, suffix or root that you are familiar with?
              ex: bisect - bicycle (2 wheels) sect(cut/separate) = cut into two parts
    • Is the definition/restatement given? (signal words: is, means, or, in other words, that is to say)
    • Is an example given? (signal words: like, such as, for example, for instance, including, : )
    • Is a comparison/contrast given? (signal words: also, like, as, well, but, yet, however, although)
    • Is there a synonym or antonym close by? (signal words: like, as, but, not, unlike)
    • What is the part of speech of unknown word; how is it used in the sentence? (noun, adjective, verb, adverb)
    • Does the word have a positive or negative connotation?
    • Do you have prior background knowledge of the subject that can help you figure out the word?
    • Can you infer the meaning from other sentences in the story/text?