Ben Zimmer's 30 Great American Words

Ben Zimmer is the executive producer of Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus. He is language columnist for The Boston Globe and the former "On Language" columnist for The New York Times Magazine. He has worked as editor for American dictionaries at Oxford University Press and as a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary. He is also the chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society.

We asked Ben, as an expert on the history of American English, to give us some of his favorite words that originated in the United States.


"I'm fascinated by how the English language developed a unique American flavor (not flavour!) beginning in colonial times. I've been collecting examples of great contributions from American English. Here is a cornucopia of copacetic coinages from fertile American minds."

Log in to practice this list

It's easy, it's free, and it only takes one click:

Select a list you want to practice, or create a new one.
We'll keep working with you on trouble words until you master them.
We track your progress as you practice the list.

More Lists to Learn

Featured Lists

"Silent Spring," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-6

Learn the words used by Rachel Carson that brought attention to the destruction of the environment...
40 Words

"Out of My Mind," Vocabulary from Chapters 1-6

Born with cerebral palsy, Melody has difficulty getting the words in her mind out into the open....
40 Words

Celebrate Bob Dylan's 75th, with 75 words from his Songs

Music legend Bob Dylan turns 75 on May 24, 2016. To celebrate, this list collects 75 vocabulary...
75 Words

Morley Safer (1931-2016) Tribute List

"60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer died on May 19, 2016 of pneumonia at the age of 84. Safer...
10 Words
More Featured Lists

"Twelfth Night," Vocabulary from Act 1

The twelfth night of Christmas marked the end of winter celebrations in 17th century England. Before...
30 Words

"Legend," Vocabulary from Part One

According to the Republic, the United States never existed, and anybody who opposes its military...
50 Words

Donald Trump Foreign Policy Address

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave his first major foreign policy address on April...
23 Words

Prince (1958-2016) Tribute List

Prince died on April 21, 2016 of undisclosed causes at the age of 57. Prince was a unique and...
20 Words
Top Rated Lists

The Vocabulary.com Top 1000

The top 1,000 vocabulary words have been carefully chosen to represent difficult but common words...
1000 Words

100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know

American Heritage Dictionaries normally feature about 70,000 entries. From that multitude, the...
100 Words

100 SAT Words Beginning with "A"

What better way to prepare for the sentence completion and passage-based questions on the SAT than...
100 Words

GRE High Frequency Words

Barron's GRE 17th Edition High Freq Words
334 Words
More Top Rated Lists

The Vocabulary.com Top 1000

The top 1,000 vocabulary words have been carefully chosen to represent difficult but common words...
1000 Words

100 Words Every Middle Schooler Should Know

American Heritage Dictionaries normally feature about 70,000 entries. From that multitude, the...
100 Words

100 SAT Words Beginning with "A"

What better way to prepare for the sentence completion and passage-based questions on the SAT than...
100 Words

GRE High Frequency Words

Barron's GRE 17th Edition High Freq Words
334 Words

100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know

Words selected by the Editors of the American Heritage® Dictionaries. Published by Houghton Mifflin...
100 Words