The do’s and don'ts of using big words in English
Throwing in a few fancy words into your conversations or monologue is a good idea to sound more eloquent and impress everyone around you.
It’s also a great way to sound smart when you don’t know what to say on a specific topic but want to make a good impression and appear more knowledgeable than you are (like this English student during his literature class).
But there’s a fine line between using fancy words that truly make you sound eloquent and those that make you sound like you’re trying too hard.
Sometimes, using big words to sound smart may backfire, especially if you don’t really know what they mean. Then, you may end up saying something that makes no sense and leaving everyone in the room perplexed. Plus, using complex words you don’t understand can make you sound pompous - so tread the line between careful and carefree.
Use them only if you truly understand their meaning and know what context to use them in. But don’t use them mindlessly as it will result in an opposite effect to what you intended.
Aside from learning those fancy words and their meaning, another challenge lies in their pronunciation. If you choose those big words that are also hard to pronounce, like “epitome” or “niche,” you might end up saying something that makes everyone laugh (it wouldn’t be such a bad scenario!).
The point is: if you’re going to use fancy words to sound smart, learn their meaning, understand how to use them in context, and practice their pronunciation first.
Big words to sound smart and their meaning
The smartest way of sounding more eloquent when expressing yourself in English is to change basic, everyday words for their fancier versions. For instance, instead of saying “very big,” say “massive.” Instead of saying “detailed.” say “granular,” and instead of saying “not interesting,” say “banal.”
See? Using the word “granular” in a sentence will inevitably add more elegance to your speech and make you appear more fluent and eloquent.
The words we’ve chosen to include in the tables below follow this exact principle. Most of them are just a fancier version of a basic, simple word you’d normally use. Others are words used in a professional or academic setting that simply add more articulacy to your statement.
Fancy words you can use at work
The question isn’t whether you should learn a couple of fancy words you can use at work to impress your boss and coworkers. The question is, how do you use them without coming across as a pompous know-it-all, irritating everyone around you?
Well, it’s all about using them wisely. Don’t cram 10 fancy words into a simple sentence just to sound smarter. Only use them when they help you get your message across. If they don’t bring any value to your sentence, simply don’t use them.
In other words - don’t force it! Be natural.
With that said, here are some big words you can use at work.
|Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas
|I must admit I feel ambivalent about the proposed merger.
|Custom-made or tailored to a specific customer or purpose.
|Our team can offer you a bespoke solution that aligns with your unique needs.
|A problem-solving technique where I get together with a group of people to come up with ideas.
|Let's schedule a brainstorming session to generate innovative strategies for our upcoming project.
|Including everything and being very thorough.
|We have prepared a comprehensive report detailing all aspects of the project.
|Things or people coming together or merging.
|The confluence of different departments' expertise will lead to a comprehensive solution.
|A confusing and difficult problem or question.
|The conundrum we face is how to balance short-term profits with long-term sustainability.
|To go off course or depart from the usual or expected path.
|Let's stick to our original plan and not deviate from the project timeline.
|Extremely small or tiny.
|The diminutive changes we made to the user interface greatly improved the user experience.
|Effective or successful in producing the desired outcome.
|The marketing campaign we implemented last quarter proved highly efficacious.
|Mental or emotional stability, especially under stress.
|Maintaining equanimity during high-pressure projects helps us make better decisions.
|A complete failure or disaster.
|Due to unforeseen challenges, the product launch turned into a fiasco.
|Something made up of small details.
|We need to analyze the data at a granular level.
|Perfect, flawless, error-free.
|Your impeccable execution in the presentation impressed the clients.
|Having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.
|We must be cautious of the pernicious effects of prolonged stress on employee well-being.
|Having keen insight, understanding, or acumen.
|Our perspicacious financial analyst accurately predicted the market trends.
|Dealing with things in a practical and sensible way.
|Taking a pragmatic approach, we can address the budget constraints without compromising on quality.