Then, create a 50-word piece of writing in which you correctly and creatively use at least four of the words. Submit your story (or poem, or song) by commenting on this post between now and May 31.

Here is what we are looking for:

  • It is most important that you use each vocabulary word correctly — according to its definition. We will not consider any entries in which a word is used incorrectly.

  • Use as many vocabulary words as you can, but without crossing a line into gibberish or inanity. Do not simply list the words; we are looking for entries that demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary.

  • Finally, we are looking for pieces of writing that are creative, original and make sense. Your comment can be fact or fiction, silly or serious; we care most that you learn new vocabulary and have fun.

And here are a few more rules:

  • Your story must be 50 words or fewer and use at least four of the listed vocabulary words.

  • Identify your vocabulary words by writing them in ALL CAPS (see the bottom of this post for examples).

  • Submit your entry as a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on May 31.

  • It is acceptable to use a word in a different tense or to use the plural of a word that is listed in the singular.

  • However, you cannot change a word’s part of speech. For example, if the word “candor” is listed as a noun, you cannot substitute the adjective “candid.”

  • Minimum Age Requirements: Middle and high school students ages 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, can submit by commenting on this post. Teachers and parents can submit on behalf of students in middle or high school who do not meet these age requirements. If you are submitting on behalf of a student, please include the student’s name at the bottom of the comment.

  • Please submit only one story per student. You cannot edit your comment once it has been submitted.

Your piece of writing should draw from the words below. Each links to a Word of the Day post with the word’s definition and an example of how it has been used in The New York Times. To find more usage examples, consult the online dictionary.

en masse
pro forma
magnum opus

The winners of our March Vocabulary Challenge used poetry and prose to describe unruly animals, a captive princess and a disagreeable intellectual.

Aria Capelli, age 16, The Athenian School, Danville, Calif.

Aperta Sesamae! With METICULOUS enunciation, she intoned the incantation, clutching the BROACH in anticipation. Unclasping, the pin radiated a beam that ILLUMINATED the dull school EDIFICE and conjured a MENAGERIE of beasts and birds. Yet terror replaced wonderment as the scene turned MACABRE, the ravenous animals hungrily eyeing their summoner.

Nicole Janowicz, age 12, Deerpath Middle School, Lake Forest, Ill.


Is very difficult to handle; you will soon see.

My UNAVAILING effort to calm them down

Might result in having to bring them to town.

This EDIFICE won’t hold them for long

But oh, boy, these IGNOMINIOUS animals are doing everything wrong.

Mi Nguyen, age 16, Silver Creek High School, San Jose, Calif.

After days of METICULOUS prepping and planning, the lost princess was ready to escape her captor and the crumbling, old EDIFICE where she had been locked away for the past 18 years. Her LUMINOUS BROACH caught the moonlight as a tear streaked down her cheek; she was finally going home.

Saanvi , Bengaluru, India

A MENAGERIE of intellectuals had gathered at the Burj Khalifa — its EDIFICE ILLUMINATED with the hologram of a skull — to ruminate over the MACABRE topic of death. One of these was a CANTANKEROUS old man, whose disinterest toward the topic GALVANIZED the rest to convince him of its significance.


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