March Vocabulary Challenge

March Vocabulary Challenge

Every school day, we define a new vocabulary word in our Word of the Day column and provide an example of how the word has been used in The New York Times. But you don’t have to be a Times journalist to contextualize a vocabulary word within a piece of writing — students can do it, too.

In our first-ever monthly Vocabulary Challenge, we invite middle and high school students to write a 50-word story using as many of our Words of the Day from the past month as they can.

This is our first time trying this challenge and we admit that it is a bit of an experiment. Post any questions or feedback you have in the comments, or write to us at

Start by getting familiar with the 18 vocabulary words published in February, which are listed below. It may help to read the linked definitions and examples of how the words have been used in The Times.

Then, create a 50-word piece of writing in which you correctly and creatively use as many of the month’s words as possible. Submit your story (or poem, or song) by commenting on this post between March 1 and March 25, then use the “Recommend” tool to vote for two of the best entries from other students.

Here is what we are looking for:

  • It is most important that you use each vocabulary word correctly according to its definition. We will not consider any entries in which a word is used incorrectly, and neither should you when you recommend other students’ comments.

  • Try to use as many vocabulary words as possible, without crossing a line into gibberish or inanity. We provide an example below of how six vocabulary words can be used in a 50-word story.

  • Finally, we are looking for pieces of writing that are creative, original and make sense. Your comment can be fact or fiction, silly or serious; we care most that you learn new vocabulary and have fun.

And here are a few more rules:

  • Your story must be 50 words or fewer.

  • Identify your vocabulary words by writing them in ALL CAPS (see the bottom of this post for an example).

  • Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on March 25 to be considered.

  • It is acceptable to use a word in a different tense or to use the plural of a word that is listed in the singular.

  • However, you cannot change a word’s part of speech. Since the word “hyperbole” is listed as a noun, you cannot substitute the adjective “hyperbolic.” You cannot use the adverb “haplessly” in place of the adjective “hapless.”

  • Students ages 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, can submit by commenting on this post. Please submit only one story per student.

We hope to recognize some of the most impressive submissions here on The Learning Network. Stay tuned.

Your piece of writing should draw from the words below. Each word links to a Word of the Day post with the word’s definition and an example of how it has been used in The New York Times. To find more usage examples, consult the online dictionary.

modus operandi

Here is an example of what we are looking for. This 49-word story uses six of January’s vocabulary words. Your story should use the Words of the Day posted in February, which are listed above.

When Nina VAUNTED her new Nintendo Switch, Adam DISPARAGED her. “You already have a GLUT of gaming consoles,” he complained, “It BEFUDDLES me that you got another.” Nina tried to retain her SANG-FROID but felt angry anyway. If Adam hadn’t been so CAPTIOUS, she might have let him play.

We look forward to reading your entries.