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Children vary widely in the rate at which they acquire words—some start slow and speed up, others start fast and continue at a steady pace. Do early developmental variations of this sort help predict vocabulary skill just prior to kindergarten entry? This longitudinal study starts by examining important predictors (socioeconomic status [SES], parent input, child gesture) of vocabulary growth between 14 and 46 months (= 62) and then uses growth estimates to predict children’s vocabulary at 54 months. Velocity and acceleration in vocabulary development at 30 months predicted later vocabulary, particularly for children from low-SES backgrounds. Understanding the pace of early vocabulary growth thus improves our ability to predict school readiness and may help identify children at risk for starting behind.