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Ok. This is what's going on.
Language, as we all know, is fun. Plus, if you know more of it, people are fooled into thinking you're smarter than you are. But learning new words usually isn't fun—you have to stop what you're doing, look up a word, misunderstand it, not hear it for several weeks, forget it, look it up again, use it incorrectly, mispronounce it, get mocked by people who do know how to pronounce it, and then burn some dictionaries until you feel better.
It doesn't have to be like this. In our Word of the Day podcasts, we hand-curate* only the most fun and useful words. Then we hit some definitions, yell at them if they aren't very good (this happens), discuss origins and etymology (but only if they're interesting), tell you how to use the words, give some real-life conversational examples and toss in some neat features, segments and guests** while we're at it.
This is how people were meant to learn new words. Or by reading. You could also just read some more books.
One other thought on "useful words." There are many words you don't know. But you gain nothing from knowing that "quercetum" means "a plantation of oak trees." It isn't useful. You do gain something from knowing that "prognosticate" means "to predict or forecast," because you might actually say it. These are the types of words we'll feature—words that are cool enough to use, but you just don't hear very often. Some you may know already, some you may not. But they're all fun, and the world is a better place if people say them more often. And you can help with that.
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- The Word of the Day Team
* This is a metaphor.
** Mainly just people we know or who are hanging around.