TV Shows And Songs That Improved Our Vocabulary

Gilmore Girls

Viewers love the Gilmore Girls because of the spirited but slightly quirky characters and small-town charm. But, its smart writing doesn't hurt either.

Whether the characters are making up their own words ("are you feeling smad?"), creating their own catchphrases ("letting go of the bumper") or using real words others aren't, such as copious (or a plentiful supply of goods) and the Latin term, in omnia paratus ("ready for all things"), viewers get to see how impressive vocabulary can be used in everyday situations (while imagining they really have a say in whether Rory dates Jess, Dean, or Logan).

Download the first season of Gilmore Girls here:

Blink-182 "All the Small Things"

Back in 2000, rock band Blink 182's song "All the Small Things" came out, bringing with it a grand vocabulary.

In the song, the band uses the word commiserating ("Always, I know/You'll be at my show/ Watching, waiting, commiserating") which means to sympathize or express sadness. The song also throws in the term, windmilla wind generating plant and "an imaginary opponent." So, all the cool kids were singing along while also unknowingly expanding their lexicon. Score!

Download "All the Small Things" below: 

The Big Bang Theory

Sure, everyone tunes into CBS's The Big Bang Theory each week for a good laugh, but besides being hilarious, these science geeks thoroughly enhance viewers language—making learning fun.

No one walks away from watching the show without learning new science and math terms, such as topological insulators ("material that is both an insulator and a conductor"), gedankenexperiment (German for "thought experiment"), and asymptote ("a straight line approached by a given curve").

And, in addition to the math and science terms, Sheldon often tells us about language as it is "For the record, it could kill us to meet new people. They could be murderers or the carriers of unusual pathogens. And I'm not insane, my mother had me tested."

Download the first season of The Big Bang Theory below:

Beastie Boys "Intergalactic"

The Beastie Boys rocked the charts in the 90s with their catchy hip-hop lyrics. But, their sounds aren't just fun to listen to, they're also educational.

For example, the boys get scientific in the ballad "Intergalactic"( or the "space between galaxies") where they sing: "Another dimension, new galaxy/Intergalactic, planetary." And, we can't forget the other lyrical gems they threw in: versatile ("many uses"), reviled ("speak abusively"), and Uranus ("seventh planet to the sun").

Download "Intergalactic" below:

Glee

The comedy television series Glee gained its popularity for many reasons, including its various song and dance routines on each episode.

While this might have reeled in its viewers, it also helped entice us to amp up our workout skills ... maybe because we were inspired by the choreography, but most likely because we were afraid of the impressively snarky expressions of cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. “Even your breath stinks of mediocrity” and "I realize my cultural ascendance only serves to illuminate your own banality."

Damn, Sue really is the ultimate comeback queen.

Download the first season of Glee below:

Fuel "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)"

The band Fuel taught its listeners about the body thanks to its "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" track.

The word hemorrhage ("to bleed profusely") might only be in the title, but its chorus ("And leave love bleeding in my hands/In my hands/Love lies bleeding") explains the meaning by associating it with something everyone can relate to: loss of love. And, don't forget their use of contagious, meaning to spread a disease by bodily contact, because if you're bleeding everywhere you better know if you have something contagious, just saying.

Download "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" below:

Mad Men

AMC's Mad Men series had a lot to offer its audience—everything from swanky fashion to seductive betrayals. But, let's not leave out the power of language.

Don Draper was the king of correcting other's grammar, and because he's a confidently cool, fine-dressed businessman, we didn't hate him for telling us all the grammar faux pas committed in the show. Even kids weren't safe from Draper: "you don't have to work no more?" Don's response? "The correct word to use is anymore." Another favorite? Telling people to use the word anything vs. nothing. Hey, we love a grammar stickler as much as the next dictionary.

Download the first season of Mad Men below:

House

FOX's television series House M.D. made medical lingo sexy, or at least more interesting to comprehend ... they only had 24 hours to figure out why people were sick, come on!

Thanks to the show's main character, Dr. Gregory House and his smart-wit team, we learned everything from hemodynamically stable ("stabilized blood flow") to zebra being more than an exotic animal but also a rare disease. Other examples include euthanasia ("painless death" or "assisted suicide"), false positive ("incorrect test result") and medical proxy ("a person who gives medical consent for a patient unable to make their own decisions"). Man, we miss House's cold sarcasm, don't you?

Download the first season of House M.D. below:

Tool "Schism"

You might have learned the meaning behind the term juxtapose ("to place together in comparison or contrast") back in elementary school, but it doesn't mean you remember it.

However, if you sang along to Tool's 2002 song, "Schism" over and over (like the rest of us), it probably helped refresh your memory: "Pure intention juxtaposed will set two lovers' souls in motion" Bonus: Schism is also a real gem, it means "division in mutually opposed parties."

True Blood

HBO's True Blood had some sultry vampires who captivated audiences, yet we can't help but notice all the fascinating words this TV series shelled out.

Take the word maenad ("raging woman") for example. And, Pam really dishes out the best quotes, right? "Now, why'd you have to go kill that maenad? She was a terrific decorator." Bet you didn't know that word had Latin and Greek roots that dated back to the 1500s though. Other words you might have searched for while watching this show? Sabbatical ("paid leave for a teacher"), chortle ("to chuckle"), and buss ("kiss"). And, we'll leave you with another one of Pam's wisdoms: "I am so over Sookie and her precious fairy vagina and her unbelievably stupid name." Ha, guess viewers were too since the show is no more.

Download the first season of True Blood below:

Sign up for our Newsletter!
Start your day with weird words, fun quizzes, and language stories.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Dictionary Is More Than The Word Of The Day

Enter your email for quizzes, quotes, and word facts in your inbox every day.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.