This Google search reveals a collection of links (from searching using the Readers Digest “It pays to increase your Word Power” search-string) this kind of information, was available and very popular years ago when the internet did not exist and the Readers Digest magazine had a list of less well known words each month.
You will need to click the top link twice, as it seems the information has moved. The Quizlet set of words is also really useful and on the extra links at the end of the page, there is a link through to a downloadable file.
For meanings in sentences of words you are not familiar with, try substituting (replacing) the unknown word to see if you can gain an insight to understanding when you dont have access to a dictionary.
Word Classes: An Introduction @ The Internet Grammar of English
see this link for a vocabulary list relating to the novels of Charles Dickens
Surely to learn it all well, we need a “Talk like the words in Charles Dickens novels” week, (but not like Mr Scrooge).
Who is your favourite character?
Mine: Artful every time!
(No pocket picking unless its viewing the pocket bookmarking site – ok)
Then there’s an age old question: Which decade do unusual or common words from?
Not to be confused with Sci-Fi (or the author Tolkein) where words are invented and are just for a specific book or series.
Clipper? (thats a ship!)
Junk? (Is that another ship or not?)
The lovely word ‘Junket’!
Try Phrases too: There are lots of confusing phrases in Chaucer and Shakespeare.
“Pierced to the root”.
“Where for art Thou?” (is it forart? Check it)
are two that easily come to mind.
Literature students of course have lots of quotes from the Shakespeare play and other novels.