Even if a vocabulary test sneaks up on you, it is still possible to learn definitions in a short period of time. Numerous strategies exist to memorizing definitions as you go through your daily schedule. Once you push new words into your daily vocabulary, you will be able to communicate more effectively in conversation and on paper.
Write the list of words and corresponding definitions at least five times on a sheet of paper. Repetition improves memorization, so take the time to rewrite the words and definitions that give you the most trouble. Afterward, you may want to try to write the definitions in your own words. Keep your personal definitions short and concise.
Associate the words and definitions with visuals. For example, write the word "ethereal" and draw a picture of an angel beside it. A small sketch like this can help you remember that "ethereal" describes a heavenly object.
Use the words in daily conversation. Provide definitions for those who are not familiar with the words. Not only will you share new words with others, but you will also reinforce the definitions in your own memory. If you can't find time for conversation, repeat the words and definitions aloud to yourself. Pretend to be a teacher and explain the definitions to an invisible audience in your own words.
Associate the words with people, places and things in your personal life. For example, if you have a playful uncle, associate him with the word "jocular." If you have a stern teacher, associate her with the word "austere."
Perform brief Internet searches on the etymologies of the most troublesome words. These searches will help you gain a better understanding of the words.