An Amazon Echo on a library table next to a dictionary and a notebook.

Amazon’s Alexa is always getting smarter and has reunited with language expert Susie Dent to expand Alexa’s vocabulary and help Brits to discover new words. The Word of the Day feature has been updated with 30 handpicked phrases from Susie’s diverse vocabulary, including mumpsimus and catchfart.

The latest update arrives as over three quarters of Brits say they are looking for a tool to help them learn new words, as they resort to looking up the meaning of a word eight times per month – nearly 100 times throughout the year.

“Increasing our vocabulary…. helps us to articulate our thoughts and emotions more powerfully, to widen the horizons of our learning, and, above all, to enjoy the beauty and verve of our language.”
Susie Dent, British language expert

With up to 1,000 words being added to British dictionaries every year, our language is complex and ever-changing. The new Word of the Day Alexa feature update follows research that reveals nearly a quarter (24%) of all Brits believe they only have an ‘average’ vocabulary, with 83% feeling ‘out of touch’ with culture as a result, leaving them with a longing to discover more words.

Susie Dent sitting at a library table next to a whiteboard holding a card that says the word "catchfart". On the table in front of Suzie there is an Amazon Echo and lots of letter cards.

British language expert, Susie Dent, comments: “Increasing our vocabulary brings enormous benefits. It helps us to articulate our thoughts and emotions more powerfully, to widen the horizons of our learning, and, above all, to enjoy the beauty and verve of our language. I’m delighted to be teaching Alexa a few of my favourite terms from the past and present; I hope others will derive as much pleasure from them as I do.”

The study of 2,000 Brits also found that we resort to looking up the meaning of a word (either online or in a dictionary) on average eight times per month, equating to nearly 100 times throughout the year. Over three quarters (76%) also avoid certain conversation subjects, including the likes of politics, finance, religion, geography, business and technology, for a fear of not understanding the specific jargon.

The majority of Brits (88%) are interested in building their vocabulary skills, with 87% believing that people never stop learning. Most (84%) said they were interested in using a tool which helps them to learn new words, citing the perceived rewards of being able to explain themselves more easily, communicate more effectively and generally gain a greater understanding, through an expanded vocabulary.

Asking “Alexa, what’s Susie Dent's Word of the Day?” will prompt the voice assistant to provide a new word from Susie, complete with a simple definition and contextual example. Available on Amazon Alexa devices (including Echo and Fire TV) on a daily basis, over the next month*, the first word from Susie Dent launches today – nod-crafty – the knack of nodding the head with an air of great wisdom. For example, Emily's Grandad gets all nod-crafty when she enthuses about TikTok.

An Amazon Echo on a library table next to a dictionary and letter cards.

“By collaborating with a renowned expert like Susie Dent for Alexa’s Word of the Day feature, we’re providing a fun and interactive way for our customers to discover new words and broaden their vocabulary – all through the power of voice,” said Eric King, Director of Alexa Europe.

“From nod-crafty to grogblossom, it’s clear that Susie’s knowledge of fascinating words is second to none and we’re excited to bring her expertise to Alexa,” adds Dennis Stansbury, Alexa UK & Ireland Country Manager. “By tapping into Susie’s golden vault of vocab, we hope to inspire customers to discover new words, whilst having some fun at the same time.”

As part of the campaign, Susie is encouraging customers to use the instructive Word of the Day feature as part of their daily routines, which they can do by adding a custom action to their Routine in the Alexa app which says, “What is Susie Dent's Word of the Day?”

Susie Dent’s tips to expand your vocabulary

Susie Dent has also provided her top tips on the most effective ways of learning new words:

  1. Read, read, read: it doesn't have to be high literature – it can be newspapers, graphic novels, or specialist magazines. The more exposure you have to different vocabulary, the more you will absorb
  2. Learn a word a day: many apps and devices can help you do this. By incorporating a single word into your lexicon each day, you can expand your vocabulary, effortlessly
  3. Communication is key: in all our exchanges (be it in person, on the phone or via video call) we want to convey our thoughts and feelings as articulately as possible and can learn from the word’s others choose to do the same
  4. Be a word detective: learn some of the adventures behind everyday words! Learning the etymology of 'sarcasm', for example – from the Greek for 'tearing flesh', because a sarcastic mark can be caustic – and discovering that it is a sibling of 'sarcophagus', a tomb whose stone quickly decomposed the flesh of a corpse, can both make you wonder and expand your vocabulary at the same time
  5. If you've always wanted to write, do it: it can be anything from a diary or a short story – by exploring your imagination you can begin to explore the vocabulary you need to narrate it
  6. Have fun with language: play word games like Scrabble or Countdown, which will have you learning a lot of new vocabulary along the way. Revel in the obscure words that will both help you win and fill a much-needed gap in your language!

How to set up Alexa Routines

To set up Routines, use the Alexa app:

  1. Open the Alexa app
  2. Open More and select Routines
  3. Select Plus
  4. Select When this happens, and follow the steps in the app to choose what starts your routine
  5. Select Add action, and follow the steps in the app to choose the action of your routine. You can have multiple actions for the same routine. You can also select Customised to type in what you would ask Alexa to do
  6. Select save

*Susie’s Word of the Day on Alexa runs from Thursday 18th March 2021 to Friday 16th April 2021

Find out more: Alexa is learning uniquely British words and phrases with Susie Dent.