Middle school students are right in the middle of learning how to read in elementary school and taking on complex texts in high school. The key to their success is a strong reading and writing vocabulary! Equip them for this upcoming challenge by adding a variety of high-frequency and advanced words to their middle school vocabulary words.
Vocabulary Word Lists Essential for Middle School
Middle School Vocabulary Lists
Each of the words listed below is not only linked to the corresponding definition page, but we’ve also provided the part of speech and brief definition in this table.
Vocabulary Words for 7th Grade
Younger middle schoolers are ready for some more interesting words in their vocabulary lesson! Try these words out in your next weekly list for students to master.
|abound (v.)||to exist|
|aptitude (n.)||a natural skill|
|balk (v.)||to block, to prevent|
|berserk (adj.)||out of control, raging|
|civil (adj.)||having to do with civilization; polite|
|confiscate (v.)||to take a thing away|
|data (n.)||information, especially in a computer|
|dawdle (v.)||to move slowly or waste time|
|debris (n.)||scattered and broken pieces of material|
|eavesdrop (v.)||to overhear or secretly listen to a conversation|
|encounter (v.)||to meet, especially unexpectedly|
|epic (adj.)||heroic, grand|
|evade (v.)||to avoid, to escape from|
|fragrance (n.)||a scent or aroma|
|hasten (v.)||to hurry|
|mellow (adj.)||calm, smooth|
|misgivings (n.)||doubts or uncertainties|
|ominous (adj.)||creepy or spooky|
|pristine (adj.)||perfectly clean|
|prose (n.)||spoken or written language that isn’t poetry|
|puncture (n., v.)||a small hole, or to make a small hole|
|quest (n.)||a search to achieve a certain goal|
|random (adj.)||without order or reason|
|rant (v.)||to complain at length|
|sham (adj.)||not real, false|
|somber (adj.)||sad and serious|
|status (n.)||a person’s standing or relative social position|
|turmoil (n.)||chaos, confusion|
|wholesome (adj.)||healthy or proper|
|zeal (n.)||excitement for something|
Printable 7th Grade Word List
If you'd rather pass out a paper version of these words, check out a printable version. It includes all 30 words above and makes a perfect reference sheet for 7th graders.
Vocabulary Words for 8th Grade
Now that 8th graders are reading more complicated stories and novels, they are encountering words with more nuance. Keep that knowledge going with these challenging 8th grade vocabulary words and definitions.
|abet (v.)||to help, especially with crime|
|beacon (n.)||something, especially a light, that warns or guides|
|braggart (n.)||someone who boasts about themselves|
|cache (n.)||a safe, hidden supply|
|celestial (adj.)||having to do with the sky or heavens|
|chasten (v.)||to punish or correct|
|clarification (n.)||the act of making clear|
|coherent (adj.)||holding together|
|despondent (adj.)||very sad, despairing, hopeless|
|detract (v.)||to belittle, to take away from|
|embezzle (v.)||to steal something entrusted to your care|
|encore (n.)||an additional performance called for by the audience|
|etymology (n.)||study of word origins|
|heartrending (adj.)||causing grief or sorrow|
|leisurely (adj., adv.)||at a slow, comfortable pace|
|lethargic (adj.)||at a slow pace, sluggish|
|malady (n.)||ailment, disease|
|nomadic (adj.)||traveling from place to place, without a permanent home|
|pantomime (n.)||performance with elaborate gestures but no words|
|pessimism (n.)||the state of expecting the worst|
|piecemeal (adj.)||done bit by bit or in pieces|
|precaution (n.)||a protective action done in advance|
|prosecute (v.)||to pursue or attack, especially a crime in a court of law|
|reinforce (v.)||to increase in amount or make stronger|
|retaliate (v.)||to strike back against something done to you|
|seclusion (n.)||isolation, privacy|
|thwart (v.)||to stop from happening, to hinder|
|uncouth (adj.)||clumsy or impolite|
|underscore (v.)||to emphasize, especially by underlining|
|wistful (adj.)||full of sad desire, yearning|
Printable 8th Grade Word List
Pass out a helpful vocabulary printable to help students study for an upcoming quiz. It includes the above words and simple definitions to reinforce understanding.
Strengthen Middle School Vocabulary Lessons
No one likes memorizing a list of vocabulary words. So how do you work these lists into your language arts curriculum? Use these ideas to make your middle school vocabulary lesson engaging and memorable.
Start with a customizable vocabulary flashcard template. Then, ask students to build sentences and sort words based on their implications. Use these lists of words to describe colors, places and behavior to help them see how their vocab words fit into language and make meaning.
Creative Writing Challenges
As much as we might want to, we can’t take our kids’ tests for them. Instilling good study habits is as important as — maybe more important than — memorizing the topics of the test. Give students daily challenges: 10 spooky words, for example, or five words in their vocabulary list that could describe the United States. By reinforcing vocabulary this way, you help your students with discipline and focus.
Reading isn’t just for a test, or even just for school. Regular reading helps people, not just kids, live richer, more fulfilling lives. Allow middle schoolers to read books that interest them, and also assign classic books for teens and young adults to build vocabulary. Have them use context clues and explicit instruction to get through the tougher parts of these novels.
More Middle School Resources
Middle school is an important time for students to master foundational language arts skills. They can bring their vocabulary and reading comprehension skills to high school reading and writing assignments. For more middle school resources, check out these writing strategy tips for middle schoolers. You can also incorporate these middle school creative writing prompts that even reluctant writers will enjoy.