Teachers, commemorate Presidents’ Day this year by looking through some of the great lists we have to explore the vocabulary choices made by presidents throughout history. These lists can bring your students closer to the words that shape current events or times gone by.
In his farewell address to the nation, President George Washington used words like dutiful and apprise. In his latest State of the Union address, President Barack Obama discussed pandemics and quagmires.
As our extensive collection of vocabulary lists based on presidential speeches show, there's no one way to answer the question, "What makes vocabulary presidential?" But on President's Day this year, students, teachers, and anyone curious about vocabulary can have a lot of fun trying.
Students can also dip into the language of would-be presidents in this particularly lively pre-election season. Donald Trump trotted out braggadocious, while we've heard mention of radicalize, entitlement, a world gone amok, and complaints of a feckless weakling at the helm.
Want a classroom activity on a presidential theme? Spend some time with that most famous example of presidential rhetoric, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Your students can appreciate the language of Lincoln with our interactive, learnable list of words like score, perish, hallow, and vain. You can also download the worksheet, "Comprehending the Gettysburg Address," to help students use vocabulary and key lines from the address to discover Lincoln's lasting message to Americans.
For more learnable presidential vocabulary to share with your students, check out our comprehensive list of lists below.
Presidential vocabulary throughout history:
- George Washington's Farewell Address (1796)
- Vocabulary from "John Quincy Adams' address on July 4, 1821"
- The Monroe Doctrine (1823)
- Lincoln Inaugural Address (March 1861)
- Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address"
- President Wilson's (14) Fourteen Points
- Franklin D. Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1933)
- Excerpt from the Address on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Statue of Liberty
- Franklin Roosevelt "Four Freedoms" (1941)
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, "A Date That Will Live In Infamy" (1941)
- Richard Nixon's "Checkers Speech" (1952)
- JFK's Inaugural Address
- President John F. Kennedy Remarks at Aero-Space Medical Health Center Dedication
- Dwight D. Eisenhower "Military Industrial Complex" (1961)
- Ronald Reagan's First Inaugural Address (1981)
- Ronald Reagan "Tear Down This Wall" (1987)
- Ronald Reagan's Address at Moscow State University (1988)
- Bush's Address on 9/11
- Excerpt from President Bush's Address on the Iraq Invasion
Vocabulary from President Obama's speeches:
- State of the Union Address: 2010, 2011, 2012,2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
- Excerpt from the Barack Obama Keynote Address to the 2004 Democratic National Convention
- Obama on Race 2008
- Address to America's Schoolchildren (2009)
- Obama's speech at Connecticut Vigil, 2012
- President Obama's second inaugural address
- President Obama's Speech at the United Nations, 2013
- President Obama's Press Conference on Health Care Plan and Other Issues
- President Obama's Speech on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
- President Obama's End of the Year Press Conference, 2013
- President Obama's Speech to the Nation about Terrorism
- President Obama's Remarks on Spying Scandal
- Obama, on the 50th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday'
- President Obama announces Executive Action on Gun Control
Vocabulary from the 2015-2016 presidential debates:
- A Word's-Eye View of Presidential Candidates in 2016: Campaign Announcements
- Our Word's-Eye View of the First GOP Debate (coverage) + list
- Least Presidential Vocabulary Used by Presidential Candidates during the GOP Debate (Sept. 16, 2015)
- Top Ten Most Relevant Words from the Third Republican Debate, October 28, 2015
- "Thrice for the United States of America"! GOP Debate or Renaissance Fair? + List
- The 15 Most Relevant Words from the Fifth Republican Presidential Debate (+5 more words of note)
- Vocabulary from the Seventh Republican Debate, January 28, 2016
- Vocabulary from the Eighth Republican Debate, February 6, 2016
- The First Democratic Debate: Candidates' Most Relevant Words
- Top Ten Most Relevant Words from the Second Democratic Debate, November 14, 2015
- The Top 20 Relevant Words from the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate, Dec. 19, 2015
- Relevant Vocabulary from Fourth Democratic Debate, January 17, 2016
- Vocabulary from the Fifth Democratic Debate, February 4, 2016
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