Swap These Words To Sound Smarter

Phew, that was a butt load of sibilance, wasn’t it! Sheesh.

Now, I’m not sure about you but I’ve noticed something sneaky going on with the way people are talking recently. Everyone seems to have been taking secret night classes and now all have diplomas in speaking fluent bullshit. It’s not so much what they’re saying but what words they’re using to say it. I can’t decide whether its genuine improvement in everyone’s vocabulary — if this is the case, well done — or if everyone’s just being ostentatious for no apparent reason. Basically, those in my near vicinity are constantly and unnecessarily using big, confusing words on the reggers. Although this is annoying because I just have to nod along while in my head I’m making crazy darty eyes like dear Wynona, it’s taught me that you can not have the foggiest clue what you’re talking about but with a few simple word swaps you can make everyone think you do. So I started taking note so we can a) decode what everyone is trying to say and b) fight fire with fire and use them ourselves.

Don’t judge — our faces have Instagram to make us seem better at life, our mouths can have this.

A simple sentence can get all fancy by butchering it with a Thesaurus a la Joey, but we can’t all carry around a honking great book like that in our ASOS shoulder bags, so it’s good to have some of these ready and waiting in your recall to whack out and dazzle people with your grandiloquence (extravagant language that is intended to impress).

We tend to knick a lot of words from other people’s language and claim them as our own. The English language is a veritable Subway sandwich of multi-lingual words, the very reason it is the most common lingua franca (look at that, I’m already sparkling your pants off with my lexicon, you are at the mercy of my superfluousness). Words such as biscuit, cafeteria and BLOODY HYGGE are not originally ours — we stole and butchered them, as Pandora Sykes writes about here. And these are no exception. You can make talking about skirting boards showy if you swap out a normal, average word for its french original.

Subtly drop the following into convos and see what happens. They are effectively the buzzword colloquialisms for twits but oh, do they make your inner subconscious shout, “TAKE THAT ADJECTIVE YOU INADEQUATE BUFFOON, FOR I AM A LOGOPHILE, HEAR MY FANCY WORDS)….

Tumultuous — highly agitated.

I use this in place of over-emotional or turbulent, usually followed by ‘relationship’. This was said on The One Show just last night and the guest said, ‘oh yes, tumultuous, that’s a word to make me sound more intelligent’ — result.

Arduous — great effort or something that takes ages to achieve.

Nonplussed — surprised and confused to the point of bewilderment.

We all definitely thought it meant ‘not fussed’. That is wrong.

Raison d’être — the most important purpose for someone’s existence. Essentially, your reason for living.

“I’m not sure what my raison d’être is yet” — Perfect for millennials this is.

Nascent — just coming into existence/ about to begin growing and showing potential.

I’ve been favouring this one recently. I use it for everything. Nascent hangover, nascent breasts, nascent craving for eggs.

Vicenarian — a person in their twenties.

Churlish — rude and mean all rolled into one.

Facetious — treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humour.

Regale — talk (but in an entertaining way).

Inebriate — drunk.

See also imbibe and quaff.

Bibliophile, Logophile, Francophile — Lover of books/words/France.

Basically put ‘phile’ on the end of anything and ta-daa.

Potentially — the capacity to develop in future.

This isn’t a hard one. I’d be pretty worried if you didn’t know what this means but it seems everyone has stopped saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and replaced it with ‘potentially’. “Do you want a tea?” “Potentially.” “Were you the one who didn’t save that report?” “Potentially” — It is not a proper answer, but it makes it sound like one.

It doesn’t even matter if you use these incorrectly. Just say them all at once really quickly and hopefully you’ll confuse the recipient enough so you can run away.

If you want to keep sounding smarter by swapping words subscribe to dictionary.com’s word of the day. It cranks out some gems. Gems that you can use in meetings and on the phone. Except yesterday’s, which was cloudland, which means sky. It was Friday, so I’m gonna let the dictionary off this one time.

Also follow Susie Dent, the Queen of words, on Twitter. It’s how I learnt words like prinking, thunderplump and licksplittle. She even regales (wink, wink) the etymology of some words which makes them all the more interesting and easy to learn. And she’s just an all-round smart and lovely lady.

I don’t know if it’s because I genuinely get giddy when I learn new words or just like sounding smart but I think they’re just such fun, I really do. Now go forth and start swapping, I implore you.


Originally published at leggyrodgers.com on February 4, 2017.