Westward Expansion: Vocabulary

Social Studies American History Westward Expansion to 1850 Westward Expansion: Vocabulary
Students interact with vocabulary words that they will encounter throughout Unit 5: Westward Expansion to 1850.

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In this experience, students interact with vocabulary words that they will encounter throughout Unit 5: Westward Expansion to 1850.

Estimated duration: 30–40 minutes

Vocabulary words:

  • blockade
  • canal
  • demand
  • expansion
  • expedition
  • free enterprise
  • frontier
  • impressment
  • migration
  • pioneer
  • production
  • settler
  • supply
  • territory


  • Learn vocabulary related to westward expansion.

Unit Vocabulary

Once the United States had won its independence and adopted the Constitution, it began to develop as a nation. Americans turned their eyes westward, hoping to find land and natural resources. In this unit, you will learn about the westward expansion that occurred between 1800 and 1850.

  • Learn vocabulary related to westward expansion.

A woman and children in front of a log cabin welcome home a group of men hunters carrying game

The Pioneer Home of the Western Frontier, by Francis Palmer, ca. 1867

This lesson builds your vocabulary of words you will use in this unit. The words are:

  • blockade: an act, usually during a war, to prevent people and goods from moving from place to place
  • canal: a man-made river used for travel or shipping
  • demand: in economics, the amount of a good or services that people ask to buy at a certain price
  • expansion: the act of making something bigger
  • expedition: a long trip, especially a difficult one, taken for a specific purpose
  • free enterprise: an economic system with few government restrictions on the business activities and decisions of individuals
  • frontier: a region or field of study that hasn’t been widely explored or settled
  • impressment: the act of forcing someone into military service
  • migration: the movement of people or animals to another place
  • pioneer: someone who is the first to do something, such as settle in an area or invent something totally new
  • production: making goods in large quantities, especially in a factory, for them to be sold
  • settler: someone who moves to a new region that has few residents
  • supply: in economics, the amount of a good or services available for purchase in the market
  • territory: the land and waters controlled by a government

Let’s start with the word expansion. The word combines three parts:

  • prefix: ex-, meaning “out.” Examples: exit, exhale, exterior
  • root: pander, meaning “to spread or stretch”
  • suffix: sion, making the word a noun

Post a synonym for the word expansion.

Post your answer

Point out to students that the word expansion is a noun, so its synonyms should also be nouns. Sample answers: growth, spread, stretching, extension, enlargement, buildup

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