How do you deal with recently-learned word definitions?

Every now and then you’ll come across a word that you don’t know the meaning of, or you want to clarify the meaning of a familiar word.

How do you deal with these words? Surely it’s not enough to just look up the word, read its definition and see some examples on how it’s used in a sentence; some sort of action requiring effort is needed in order to keep what we learned in our long-term memory. But how do you do that? What tools do you use? What is your system/workflow (if you even have one at all)?

This may or may not be an Obsidian-related question. I suspect that a spaced repetition plugin would be useful for this, but since we don’t have that yet, I want to know your current process of doing this and whether or not you use Obsidian or another app/tool for the job.

My current process rn is just writing the word in daily notes with the intent that I’ll be working with those in the future, especially when a spaced repetition plugin arrives.

Would love to hear your thoughts

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Sorry, I don’t have much to add here. I’m thinking about the same thing. Do I use another app like Anki or maybe RemNote for definitions, or do I create permanent cards for them and add them to my slip-box? The former would facilitate learning, and the latter might enrich my slip-box. Are definitions considered worthy of a permanent note?


When I encounter new words or new phrases or want to clarify the meaning of a familiar word I create new note. Actually, I think that around 20%-10% of my notes are notes which define terms. I don’t use any kind of SR system because I don’t see any point in doing so. I don’t think it is a waste o time to create a permanent note to clarify the meaning of a word. This way you can store all of your thoughts about this word in one place. What are the reasons to think that is not worth your time to write the definition down when we have dictionaries and wikipedia which are all about definitions?

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There are some unfamiliar words that you just simply want to know the meaning of and how it’s used in different contexts so that you can understand them the next time you come across them again, not necessarily make a wiki that’s deeply dedicated for that word, its history/origin, impact, or whatever.

And so in that sense, I personally find spaced repetition more appropriate than making permanent notes.

That said, your approach is definitely interesting. I would’ve done this for deeper terms that do need separate notes to explain them. But I haven’t thought of doing it for simpler unfamiliar words that I randomly come across.

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I’m taking a philosophy class this summer. I ended up making a “definitions” folder, and when I come across a word I don’t know, I make a definition note. I see some of the conceptual type definitions developing into permanent notes one day and I’ll move them. I find it useful because I can do a quick lookup of the words until I learn them.

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I’d create a master note called “Words and Definitions” that I would popular with links to notes, each of which is related to the word where I’d write the definition, potential uses, etc…
That way, you can then reference the new word in your daily notes, allowing you to see when you have first encountered, and then subsequently used that word.

Here’s another tip. Put these notes inside the same folder. That way, you can open a vault inside that folder only, and then enable the Random plugin, allowing you to randomly re-read about a note. That would be the equivalent of running a flashcard system.

Hope that helps!


Really starting out here and seems like the approach you are suggesting fit well along my line of thinking, not just to learn new words but as a general approach towards developing a PKM system in Obsidian.

how do you envision exactly “that I would popular with links to notes, each of which is related to the word where I’d write the definition”? This would be through backlinks or through manually inputting the notes into the main note? In this case, one would be actually reproducing a folder system…