Book Review: “Words That Make A Difference”

Photo of book, "Words That Make A Difference" for blog on book review on, a blog by Charis Freiman-Mendel, author of "Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T."

Reading and studying "Words That Make A Difference" is a great way to learn more vocab!

On my hunt to find another creative vocabulary book, I came across Words That Make a Difference: and how to use them in a masterly way, written by Robert Greenman. Words That Make A Difference offers  yet another way to ATTAIN a great vocabulary through context. The book features hundreds of words that were used in passages from the RENOWNED newspaper, The New York Times. The book also includes a vocab list at the beginning and offers an easy tool at the end to clear up common linguistic mistakes, such as understanding the difference between “affect” and “effect.” There are about 400 pages of vocab words used in context, a sentence definition of that word and also how to sound it out. This book will keep you busy! Words That Make A Difference is a self-guide to learning words by reading passages that were written by vocabulary experts. It’s interesting and it makes learning fun.


SURREPTITIOUS   suh ruhp TI shus: acting in a secret, stealthy way

“‘The video pirates would take portable video cameras into movie theaters and surreptitiously tape the feature films being shown,’ Ms. Pirro said. She said they would then return to their base of operations and, using hundreds of conventional videocassette recorders, mass-produce copies of the movie.”

Words That Make A Difference was published in 2000, so it can be considered a “classic.” For words that make a difference today, Erin McKean writes a column for the New York Times NEMESIS called, Week In Words, a field guide to unusual words in this week’s Wall Street Journal. Erin highlights vocab that is not likely to appear on standardized tests but is fun NEVERTHELESS. 

Photo of mirliton or chayote squash for post by charis freiman-mendel, author of "cook your way Through The S.A.T.", on book review of "words that make a difference"
Mirliton (AKA chayote squash)

Erin wrote this in the February 11, 2012 column:

the mirliton squash (also known as a chayote) can be swapped for bitter melon varietals.

The word mirliton comes from a French word for a kazoo-type flute, although the squash itself is often called a “christophene” in France. It is also pronounced as “mella-ton.”

April 25th is National Zucchini Bread Day… consider baking a mirliton bread to celebrate! Scarlott Paolicchi recently featured my Zucchini Brownies recipe and fun fact vocabulary from Cook Your Way Through The S.A.T. on her blog, Brownies aren’t exactly bread…but close enough?

  •  ATTAIN = achieve, acquire
  • RENOWNED = famous
  • SURREPTITIOUS = acting in a secret way
  • NEMESIS = rival
  • NEVERTHELESS = still

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