If you frequently while away a few hours playing Angry Birds, Words With Friends, or Candy Crush Saga, there’s every chance you engage without even a glimmer of guilt. However, if you do often feel like you’re being just a little bit unproductive with your time, you could check out Vocabulary.com’s mobile apps.

Kicking off on the Web back in 2011, Vocabulary.com‘s mission from the start has been to help you improve your, well, vocabulary. It analyzes books, periodicals, and more, pulling out the “most essential English vocabulary words”, ones that you may use in an academic or business environment. And with leaderboards firmly in tow, it gamifies the process too.

Vocabulary.com’s first foray into native mobile apps kicked off on iOS last month, but from today it’s available on Android too.

Costing $2.99 or your local currency equivalent, you can compete with friends and strangers, earn points and badges, all with one ultimate goal in mind: to build your personal arsenal of words.

How it looks

Once you’ve created an account (if you don’t have one already), you’re instantly launched into the word-learning deep-end. The underlying adaptive technology uses more than 125,000 questions to teach around 12,000 words, with a built-in dictionary serving up definitions that you’re more likely to remember.

If you answer one of the multiple-choice question correctly, you swipe to the right and it gives you a context-based definition. If you answer incorrectly, it will ask you to try again.

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But it can also be used as a standalone dictionary, and features 165,000 words with more than 100 million usage examples. You simply enter a word into the search box, and see how it’s used within a meaningful sentence, then add it to a list of words for you to memorize and ‘learn’ over time. You can also hear the word as it should be pronounced, by hitting the little audio icon beside it.

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The more you use the app, the more it learns which words you know, and which ones might require a little help. Thus, the games become better-tailored to your ability over time, using data such as how long it took for you to answer a question correctly, which question-types you typically do well on, and more.

Indeed, even if you do answer a word correctly the first time, you may well still see it again at a later point. And if you initially find that the words targeted towards you are too easy, this will become less of an issue as it detects your current ability.

Over and above all this, you can peruse topic-specific vocabulary lists from across the community – this may be broad such as ‘Academic Vocabulary’, or something a little more niche – like ‘Vocabulary from the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘, ‘Real Words ‘The Simpsons’ Used Well’, and ‘100 SAT Words Beginning with A‘. There’s more than 350,000 vocabulary lists that are good to go.

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The competitive element is key to Vocabulary.com though – this is what it uses to reel you in and get you addicted. Similar to the Web-based and iOS versions of the app, users accrue points, achievements and other awards en-route to becoming a top-performing wordsmith, while competing with anyone around the world on daily and monthly leaderboards.

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While Vocabulary.com will appeal to generalists and users from all backgrounds, with its pre-existing lists it will also appeal to more specialized user-bases, such as those studying classic literature or perhaps someone preparing to sit their TOEFL test.

Whichever camp you belong to, if you have even the faintest interest in the English language and are looking to wean yourself off your Zynga-branded-game addiction, Vocabulary.com will hook you if you give it half-a-chance.

Vocabulary.com | Google Play

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