Vocabulary Lists

Speeches

Dwight D. Eisenhower "Military Industrial Complex" (1961)

As he prepared to leave the office of President in 1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a farewell speech in which he warned Americans about the growing influence of what he called the "military industrial complex." Ironically, Eisenhower, the former World War II general and D-Day Commander, feared the growing power of corporations that had grown to supply the United States with military equipment and weapons.
65 Words

Mahatma Gandhi's "Quit India" Speech

Born on October 2, 1869, Mahatma Gandhi was an activist and leader who changed the course of history by helping to lead India to independence. These words are from the speech Gandhi's delivered on August 8, 1942 urging a non-violent fight against British colonial rule. The "Quit India" speech is one of Gandhi's most famous public addresses.
20 Words

Dr. Martin Luther King's "I've Been to the Mountaintop" (1968)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered this, his last speech, on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. On the following day, he was assassinated. In this speech, King challenges the United States to live up to its ideals, and calls for acts of nonviolent protest against the institutionalized racism. Toward the end of the speech, King references the possibility of his own untimely death.
25 Words

"What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" by Frederick Douglass

In this powerful speech delivered on July 5, 1852, abolitionist Frederick Douglass argued that the practice of slavery was antithetical to the American values of liberty and freedom.
50 Words

Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I A Woman?" (1863)

Sojourner Truth's speech at the 1851 Women's Rights Convention in Ohio asked a question that could not be denied in order to draw attention to the humanity, abilities, thus rights, of both women and slaves. The overall tone was passionate and provocative. In a version published in an 1863 issue of the Anti-Slavery Standard, the presiding officer of the convention Frances Dana Gage quoted the speech within her descriptions of the setting, audience, and speaker. E-text available here.
20 Words

Trump's State of The Union Address, 2018

President Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address on January 30, 2018. President Trump broadly outlined his agenda for the coming year on matters both foreign and domestic. He also mentioned the ongoing immigration controversy and urged bipartisan cooperation on that issue and others. Here are 20 vocabulary words drawn from the President's speech. The full transcript of the speech can be found here.
20 Words

Figurative Language in King's "I Have a Dream" Speech (1963)

Learn the vocabulary that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to inspire a generation to break free from the "manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination." On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Speaking from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., King stood before an estimated quarter of a million people who had gathered to demonstrate for passage of the Civil Rights Act. This list focuses on King's use of figurative language.
30 Words

Franklin D. Roosevelt, "A Date That Will Live In Infamy" (1941)

On December 7, 1941 Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States naval base located at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Over 2,400 Americans died. The next day President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed Congress to ask for a declaration of war. He began by referring to December 7th as, "a date that will live in infamy." The Pearl Harbor attack brought the United States into World War II and was the most deadly foreign attack on American soil until the 9/11 attacks by al Quaeda in 2001.
32 Words

Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" (1863)

At just 272 words long, Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" is widely considered to be one of the most powerful battlefield orations of all time. On November 19, 1863, Lincoln delivered the speech on the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered to be a turning point in the Civil War.
14 Words

Herbert Hoover on "Rugged Individualism" (1928)

The son of a blacksmith, Herbert Hoover earned millions through his work as a geologist and mining engineer. While his economic successes led to political positions, he believed that American progress is rooted in the separation of government and business. Here are some words from the October 22, 1928 speech that capped his campaign to become the 31st President.
35 Words

President Trump's First Address to the United Nations General Assembly (2017)

President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time on September 19, 2017. The speech touched on a range of topics including the state of the U.N. itself, the political situation in Venezuela, the Iran nuclear deal, and North Korea's ongoing nuclear efforts. Here's a list of vocabulary words drawn from the president's speech. The entire speech can be read here.
25 Words

Theodore Roosevelt on "New Nationalism" (1910)

At the dedication of the John Brown Memorial Park in Kansas, former president Theodore Roosevelt used the opportunity to attack the administration of his successor (William H. Taft) and start a campaign for a third term. Here are some words from the August 31, 1910 speech that introduced the philosophy of the Progressive Party.
35 Words

President Carter on "The Crisis of Confidence" (1979)

The clear and present danger to 1970s American way of life was the energy crisis. In response to OPEC reducing its global oil supply, President Carter outlined a conservation plan that included regulating public utilities, installing solar hot water panels on the White House, and requesting that Christmas be celebrated without decorative lights. After years of deprivation, no one seemed willing to listen anymore. Here are some words from the July 15, 1979 speech that aimed to shake the nation out of its malaise.
35 Words

President L.B. Johnson on "The Great Society" (1964)

On May 22, 1964, the graduating students of the University of Michigan were personally asked by the President to join him in a battle to make America great. Here are some of the words used by Lyndon B. Johnson to inspire a commitment to end poverty and injustice.
30 Words

President T. Roosevelt on "The Man with the Muck Rake" (1906)

Learn these words from Roosevelt's April 14, 1906 speech that calls the press to treat its subjects with objective moderation. During his two terms in office, Theodore Roosevelt made the White House the center of news every day, which he facilitated by giving reporters a special room. Coverage was mostly favorable, but when Joseph Pulitzer published accusations of misconduct in the building of the Panama Canal, the President tried to charge him with libel.
35 Words

"The Young American" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The son of a minister, divinity school graduate Ralph Waldo Emerson found his calling as a lecturer across the nation. Before live audiences, he presented his thoughts on a wide range of topics, which he often revised for publication. From his February 7, 1844 address to the Mercantile Library Association in Boston, here are some words calling for American leadership. Read the full text here. Here are links to our lists for other works by Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature, Self-Reliance
35 Words

Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address (1801)

1800 was a bitter election year. The incumbent Federalist president ran against his Democratic-Republican vice-president. John Adams lost, but two rival candidates tied. The House of Representatives decided that Aaron Burr would get the secondary title. On March 4, 1801, in the new capital of Washington D.C., Thomas Jefferson was sworn in as the third president. Here are some of his words urging reconciliation.
25 Words

James Monroe's First Inaugural Address (1817)

Riding on the success of the Democratic-Republicans in concluding the War of 1812, James Monroe won the presidency with a wide margin of electoral votes (183-34). On March 4, 1817, he was sworn in as the fifth president. Here are some of the words that ushered in the Era of Good Feelings.
35 Words

Vocabulary from the Democratic Response to President Trump's First Address to Congress

The Democratic response to President Trump's Address to Congress was delivered from Kentucky by Steve Beshear, the former Governor of that state. Beshear focused on the issue of health care, after President Trump's call to "Repeal and Replace Obamacare" earlier in the evening. Beshear also highlighted what he views as the mistakes President Trump has made in his first 40 days in office. Here are fifteen vocabulary words from Steve Beshear's Democratic response to President Trump. Vocabulary words from President's Trump speech are featured here.
15 Words

Vocabulary from President Trump's First Address to Congress

President Trump delivered his first speech to Congress on February 28, 2017. President Trump outlined wide-ranging goals which emphasized bringing jobs back to America, strengthening the nation's infrastructure and military, and establishing a new healthcare system. Here are fifteen vocabulary words from President Trump's address to Congress. The speech was followed by a response from the Democrats, with fifteen of those words here.
15 Words

Donald Trump Inauguration Address- January 20, 2017

Donald Trump gave his inaugural address on January 20, 2017. Newly sworn-in as President, Trump promised to serve the people of America, and to put America first in weighing all decisions. He also pledged to bring jobs and wealth back to the United States. Here are twenty words from President Trump's inaugural address.
20 Words

President Obama's Farewell Address

President Obama delivered his farewell address on January 10, 2017. The speech detailed what President Obama holds to be the core components that make up American democracy and outlined what he considers to be the continuing threats, located both home and abroad. It was also a speech rich in gratitude, both personal and professional, as President Obama prepares to leave office on January 20, 2017. Here are 28 vocabulary words from the speech.
28 Words

Michelle Obama's final address as First Lady (2017)

On January 6, 2017, in celebration of the National School Counselor of the Year, Michelle Obama gave some words she hopes young Americans will always remember.
30 Words

Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

Here are fourteen vocabulary words from the speech that music legend Bob Dylan wrote in anticipation of accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature. Dylan did not deliver the address himself, but his humor and wit shine throughout the speech, the full text of which can be read here.
14 Words

Nehru's "Tryst with Destiny" Speech

On August 15, 1947, India signed an agreement that granted it s independence from Britain. India had not ruled itself for centuries. After a long and exhausting fight that took decades of diplomatic struggle and protest, India was finally free and Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister of the nation. The speech he gave upon India's independence being secured is known as the "Tryst with Destiny" speech. It is justifiably famous as a great speech delivered at a great historic moment. Here are 24 vocabulary words from the speech. The full text of the speech is available here.
24 Words

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.