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.


Ambivalent/æmˈbɪvələnt/Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideasI must admit I feel ambivalent about the proposed merger.
Bespoke/bɪˈspoʊk/Custom-made or tailored to a specific customer or purpose.Our team can offer you a bespoke solution that aligns with your unique needs.
Brainstorming/ˈbreɪnˌstɔːrmɪŋ/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.
Comprehensive/ˌkɒmprɪˈhɛnsɪv/Including everything and being very thorough.We have prepared a comprehensive report detailing all aspects of the project.
Confluence/ˈkɒnflʊəns/Things or people coming together or merging.The confluence of different departments' expertise will lead to a comprehensive solution.
Conundrum/kəˈnʌndrəm/A confusing and difficult problem or question.The conundrum we face is how to balance short-term profits with long-term sustainability.
Deviate/ˈdiːvieɪt/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.
Diminutive/dɪˈmɪnjʊtɪv/Extremely small or tiny.The diminutive changes we made to the user interface greatly improved the user experience.
Efficacious/ˌɛfɪˈkeɪʃəs/Effective or successful in producing the desired outcome.The marketing campaign we implemented last quarter proved highly efficacious.
Equanimity/ˌɛkwəˈnɪmɪti/Mental or emotional stability, especially under stress.Maintaining equanimity during high-pressure projects helps us make better decisions.
Fiasco/fiˈæskoʊ/A complete failure or disaster.Due to unforeseen challenges, the product launch turned into a fiasco.
Granular/ˈɡrænjʊlər/Something made up of small details.We need to analyze the data at a granular level.
Impeccable/ɪmˈpɛkəbl/Perfect, flawless, error-free.Your impeccable execution in the presentation impressed the clients.
Pernicious/pərˈnɪʃəs/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.
Perspicacious/ˌpɜːrspɪˈkeɪʃəs/Having keen insight, understanding, or acumen.Our perspicacious financial analyst accurately predicted the market trends.
Pragmatic/ˈpræɡˌmætɪk/Dealing with things in a practical and sensible way.Taking a pragmatic approach, we can address the budget constraints without compromising on quality.

Clever words you might use academically

The academic setting does not only encourage you to sound smart. It forces you to. To get higher grades and convince your professors of your knowledge and eloquence, you need to elevate your vocabulary.

Whether it’s in written or spoken assignments, these words will help you express yourself in a more intelligent and elegant way while impressing your colleagues and professors.


Acquiesce/ˈækwiˌɛs/To agree passively.In the research group, we decided to acquiesce to the professor's suggestion.
Antithesis/ænˈtɪθəsɪs/Direct contrast or opposition between two things.The antithesis of love is not hatred, but rather indifference.
Banal/bəˈnæl/Lacking originality; clichéd and uninteresting.The research paper presented banal arguments.
Brevity/ˈbrɛvɪti/Concise and exact use of words; briefness.The presenter's brevity allowed us to grasp the main points of the study quickly.
Candor/ˈkændər/Openness and honesty in expressing one's thoughts.The professor appreciated my candor when I shared my opinion on the topic.
Caveat/ˈkeɪviæt/A warning or cautionary statement.Before proceeding with the experiment, the researcher added a caveat about potential errors.
Cultivate/ˈkʌltɪveɪt/To nurture, develop, or improve something through careful attention or practice.As students, we must cultivate critical thinking skills to analyze complex issues.
Cumulative/ˈkjuːmjʊˌleɪtɪv/Increasing or growing by successive additions.Over the years, the cumulative effect of these small advancements has led to significant progress in the field.
Didactic/daɪˈdæktɪk/Intending to teach or convey a moral lesson.I believe that the fable has a didactic purpose.
Digress/daɪˈɡrɛs/To deviate from the main topic or point.The speaker tends to digress during presentations, making it challenging to follow the central message.
Diligent/ˈdɪlɪdʒənt/Showing persistent and careful effort in one's work.I am as diligent as possible in completing my assignments.
Egregious/ɪˈɡriːdʒəs/Outstandingly bad; remarkably bad.The author’s egregious errors in the thesis weakened the credibility of the research.
Eloquent/ˈɛləkwənt/Expressive and articulate in speech or writing.The professor delivered an eloquent lecture.
Equitable/ˈɛkwɪtəbl/Fair and impartial, ensuring everyone is treated justly.Our academic institution provides equitable opportunities for all students.
Implicit/ɪmˈplɪsɪt/Implied though not plainly expressed; understood without being stated directly.The results of this study were implicit.
Innate/ɪˈneɪt/Existing from birth; inherent; natural.Some people have an innate talent for music.
Meticulous/məˈtɪkjələs/Showing great attention to detail; thorough.I am meticulous in my academic research.
Myriad/ˈmɪriəd/A countless or extremely great number.The study examined a myriad of factors.
Opportune/ˈɒpətjuːn/Well-timed; suitable or advantageous in a particular situation.This is an opportune moment to discuss this issue.
Proverbial/prəˈvɜrbiəl/Widely known and commonly referred to.The professor illustrated the concept using the proverbial example of 'actions speak louder than words'.
Qualitative/ˈkwɒlɪteɪtɪv/Concerned with qualities or characteristics rather than quantities.The qualitative analysis provided valuable insights into the participants' subjective experiences.
Quintessential/ˌkwɪntɪˈsɛnʃəl/Representing the most perfect or typical example of something.The author's work is often regarded as the quintessential representation of romantic poetry.
Substantiate/səbˈstænʃieɪt/To provide evidence or support for a claim or argument.The researcher presented data to substantiate the hypothesis.

Big interesting words you might use socially

Being the smartest person among your friends is surely a great boost for your ego. It can help you gain their approval, receive compliments, and maybe even get a date or two while hanging out at the bar with your friends.

But the other side of the coin is that using overly sophisticated words in a casual, social setting can make you appear pretentious and out of place. That’s why you need to be careful and not overdo it! If you do, you might only end up humiliating yourself, and that’s a terrible place to be in.

Here are 20+ big words in English you can use in social situations with their meaning and an example of a sentence you could say.


Amiable/ˈeɪmiəbl/Friendly and pleasant in nature.He's an amiable guy, everyone enjoys his company at parties.
Aplomb/əˈplɒm/Self-confidence and poise, especially in demanding situations.I admire you, John! You always respond with aplomb.
Besotted/bɪˈsɒtɪd/Infatuated or deeply in love with someone or something.She seems completely besotted with her new guitar. She plays it every chance she gets.
Disillusioned/ˌdɪsɪˈluːʒənd/Disappointed or disenchanted due to unmet expectations or beliefs.He didn’t reply to me for hours, and after he did, I still felt disillusioned.
Effervescent/ˌɛfərˈvɛsənt/Bubbly, vivacious, or enthusiastic.Laura’s got such an effervescent personality, she always brings so much energy to social gatherings.
Enigmatic/ˌɛnɪɡˈmætɪk/Mysterious and difficult to understand.He’s got such an enigmatic smile! I am not sure if he likes me.
Ephemeral/ɪˈfɛmərəl/Lasting for a very short time; fleeting.Let’s enjoy being together. Those moments are so ephemeral!
Essentially/ɪˈsɛnʃəli/In essence; fundamentally.The party was fun, but essentially, it was just a gathering of friends and good food.
Felicitous/fɪˈlɪsɪtəs/Well-suited, appropriate, or fortunate.Your felicitous choice of music creates the perfect ambiance for this party.
Fundamentally/ˌfʌndəˈmɛntəli/At the most basic level; essentially.I think being kind to others is fundamentally important in building strong friendships.
Idiosyncratic/ˌɪdiəsɪŋˈkrætɪk/Peculiar or unique to an individual.His sense of humor is quite idiosyncratic. He always cracks jokes that only he finds funny.
Immense/ɪˈmɛns/Extremely large or vast.This burger is immense! I won’t finish it all.
Incandescent/ˌɪnkænˈdɛsənt/Emitting a bright and glowing light; passionately enthusiastic.Your smile is incandescent today, you seem to radiate positive energy!
Intricate/ˈɪntrɪkət/Highly detailed or complex.The puzzle was so intricate that it took us hours to figure out all the pieces.
Luminous/ˈluːmɪnəs/Emitting light, especially in the dark; shining and bright.The stars in the night sky looked luminous, and we enjoyed stargazing for hours.
Massive/ˈmæsɪv/Huge, enormous, or substantial.Your party last night was a massive success!
Mellifluous/məˈlɪfluəs/Sweet-sounding; pleasing to the ear.Her voice is so mellifluous! It makes the song sound so melancholic.
Nefarious/nɪˈfɛərɪəs/Wicked, evil, or villainous.The protagonist in the book battled against a nefarious character seeking world domination. It was interesting to read!
Opulent/ˈɒpjʊlənt/Luxurious and grand in appearance.This restaurant looks too opulent for my taste. Let’s go somewhere else!
Petrichor/ˈpɛtrɪkɔːr/The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell.Can you smell the petrichor of wet earth? It’s delightful!
Predilection/ˌpriːdɪˈlɛkʃən/A preference or special liking for something.She has a predilection for watching romantic comedies. They're her favorite genre.
Resplendent/rɪˈsplɛndənt/Dazzlingly impressive or beautiful.The ballroom looks resplendent with these sparkling chandeliers and elegant decorations.
Scintillating/ˈsɪntɪleɪtɪŋ/Sparkling, lively, or brilliantly clever.His scintillating humor always keeps everyone entertained.
Serendipity/ˌsɛrənˈdɪpɪti/The occurrence of pleasant or valuable discoveries by chance.Running into an old friend at the bookstore was such serendipity. We had a great time catching up!
Ubiquitous/juːˈbɪkwɪtəs/Present or found everywhere; widespread.I hate the fact that smartphones have become ubiquitous.
Unequivocally/ˌʌnɪˈkwɪvəkəli/In a way that leaves no doubt or ambiguity.You won’t convince him to come. He unequivocally stated that he was not going to the concert, no matter what.
Whimsical/ˈwɪmzɪkəl/Playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way.I love the whimsical ambiance of this place! It’s so magical.

Impressive words you might use romantically

Even if you’re not a very romantic person, some occasions require a bit of romanticism. Using elegant words in your expressions of love and affection can make your romantic conversations and gestures more special and memorable.

Still, don’t use big words if you don’t mean them! You should always be sincere and genuine in your expressions. Remember that words hold tremendous power in inspiring emotions in those who receive them.

With that said, here are 30 big words you can use in a romantic setting to express your love and affection for your significant other or to take your relationship with the person you’re currently dating to the next level (congrats!).


Admire/ədˈmaɪər/To regard with deep respect and appreciation.I admire your determination and strength; you inspire me to be a better person.
Adore/əˈdɔːr/To have a deep affection and admiration for someone.I absolutely adore the way you make me laugh and feel loved.
Allure/əˈljʊər/To attract and entice someone with charm and beauty.You have an allure that captivates my heart; I am drawn to you like a magnet.
Amiable/ˈeɪmiəbl/Showing a friendly and pleasant disposition.I love spending time with you because you are so amiable and easy to be around.
Captivating/ˈkæptɪveɪtɪŋ/Holding someone's attention and interest with charm.Your stories are always captivating; I could listen to you talk for hours.
Cherish/ˈtʃɛrɪʃ/To hold someone dear and treasure their presence.I cherish the moments we spend together; they are the best times of my life.
Dazzling/ˈdæzlɪŋ/Brilliant and impressive, leaving a lasting impression.You looked absolutely dazzling in that outfit tonight; you took my breath away.
Delight/dɪˈlaɪt/To bring great pleasure and joy to someone's heart.Dancing under the stars with you would be an absolute delight.
Devotion/dɪˈvəʊʃən/A strong and dedicated love and commitment.Your unwavering devotion to our relationship makes me feel cherished and secure.
Embrace/ɪmˈbreɪs/To hold someone close, expressing love and comfort.In your warm embrace, I find solace and a sense of belonging.
Enchant/ɪnˈtʃænt/To delight or captivate someone deeply.Your smile has the power to enchant me every time we meet.
Endear/ɪnˈdɪr/To make someone feel loved and cherished.You never fail to endear yourself to me with your sweet gestures and kind words.
Enrapture/ɪnˈræptʃər/To fill someone with delight and intense joy.Your beautiful singing voice never fails to enrapture my heart; I could listen to you forever.
Entrancing/ɪnˈtrænsɪŋ/Fascinating and captivating, like a bewitching love.You have an entrancing beauty that leaves me mesmerized every time I see you.
Exquisite/ɪkˈskwɪzɪt/Beautifully delicate and pleasing to the senses.You are exquisite.
Fondness/ˈfɒndnəs/A tender affection and liking for someone.I have a fondness for the way you make me feel loved and cherished every day.
Glorious/ˈɡlɔːrɪəs/Magnificent and splendid, like the love you share.Our love is a glorious journey filled with beautiful moments.
Graceful/ˈɡreɪsfəl/Displaying elegance and beauty in movement or manner.I find your dance moves so graceful; you move like poetry.
Infatuate/ɪnˈfætjʊeɪt/To be intensely attracted to someone with strong feelings of affection.I can't help but feel infatuated with you; you are all I think about.
Intimate/ˈɪntɪmət/Close and personal, with a deep emotional connection.Let's share an intimate dinner for two and create beautiful memories together.
Luminous/ˈluːmɪnəs/Radiant and glowing, like the love in one's heart.Your luminous smile brightens my darkest days and warms my soul.
Melodic/ˈmɛlədɪk/Pleasant-sounding and melodious, like a beautiful love song.Your laughter is so melodic; it's like music to my ears.
Soulmate/ˈsoʊlˌmeɪt/A person ideally suited for another as a close companion or romantic partner.You’re truly my soulmate and I couldn’t live without you.
Tenderness/ˈtɛndərnəs/Showing gentle and affectionate love and care.Your tender touch makes me feel safe and loved; you have a heart of gold.
Whispers/ˈwɪspərz/Soft and intimate words shared between lovers.Let's share whispers under the stars, where our secrets become our most cherished treasures.

Sophisticated words you might use when discussing art and literature

Are you an art or literature? These two areas often require eloquent vocabulary to describe them. At least, that is the sort of language that people expect to hear from someone who’s an avid reader and art connoisseur.

You might want to express how the allegory in that poem made you feel or the way the plot of the book has enthralled you to keep reading but lack the right words to do it. If so, here’s a list of 20+ words you can use to talk about art and literature in different contexts.


Aesthetics/ɛsˈθɛtɪks/The principles of beauty and artistic taste.I really love the aesthetics of this painting. The colors and brushstrokes are just so mesmerizing.
Allegory/ˈæləɡɔːri/A narrative with symbolic meaning, often conveying moral or political lessons.The allegory in the story made it feel like there were deeper messages and lessons to think about.
Allusion/əˈluːʒən/A reference to a well-known person, place, event, or work of art or literature.The allusion to classic literature in the story made it even more fun and interesting to read.
Avant-garde/ˌɑːvɑ̃ˈɡɑːrd/Innovative and experimental, often referring to cutting-edge art or literature.The artist's avant-garde style is so unique and different from anything I've seen before.
Catharsis/kəˈθɑːrsɪs/The emotional release or cleansing experienced through art or literature.Reading that book was such a catharsis for me. It helped me process my own emotions and feel better.
Dystopian/dɪsˈtoʊpiən/Describing a fictional society characterized by oppression and societal issues.The dystopian world in this novel is so intense and scary. It makes me think about our own society.
Elegy/ˈɛlədʒi/A mournful poem or lament for the deceased or a lost era.The elegy in the book was so touching. It made me reflect on the memories of my own loved ones."
Expressionism/ɪkˈsprɛʃənɪzəm/An art movement emphasizing the portrayal of emotions and subjective experience.I really connect with expressionism. It's so emotional and raw.
Haiku/ˈhaɪˌkuː/A traditional Japanese poem with three lines and a specific syllable pattern (5-7-5).I found a lovely haiku in this book that perfectly captured the beauty of nature in so few words.
Impressionism/ɪmˈprɛʃəˌnɪzəm/An art movement focused on capturing the immediate and transient effect of light on objects.I really like the impressionism in this painting. It feels so fresh and alive.
Metaphor/ˈmɛtəˌfɔr/A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things.The author's use of the ocean as a metaphor in the story really helped me understand the character's emotions.
Monochrome/ˈmɒnəˌkroʊm/Art or literature executed in a single color or shades of a single color."The monochrome illustrations in the graphic novel gave it a really cool and consistent look.
Protagonist/ˈproʊtæɡənɪst/The main character or leading figure in a literary work.The protagonist in this book is so interesting. I can't wait to see how their story unfolds.
Realism/ˈrɪəˌlɪzəm/An artistic or literary approach that depicts subjects with accuracy and truthfulness.I really enjoy the realism in this novel, it feels like the characters and situations could be real people and events.
Renaissance/ˈrɛnəˌsɑːns/A period of cultural and artistic rebirth in history, particularly in Europe.I love learning about the Renaissance, it was such an important time for art and literature.
Sonnet/ˈsɒnɪt/A 14-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme, often used to express love or emotion.I stumbled upon a beautiful sonnet about love. The words were so heartfelt and touching.
Sublime/səˈblaɪm/Awe-inspiring and of great beauty, often beyond comprehension.The view from the mountaintop was sublime. I felt so small and amazed by the beauty of nature.
Surreal/səˈriːəl/Dreamlike and beyond reality, often associated with surrealism in art.The artwork's surreal style makes me feel like I'm entering a dream world. It's so cool and unique.
Symbolism/ˈsɪmbəˌlɪzəm/The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities in literature or art.The flowers in this painting have a deeper meaning. They symbolize hope and rebirth.
Versification/ˌvɜːrsɪfɪˈkeɪʃən/The art or practice of composing verse, including rhyme and meter.The versification in this poem was really interesting.

Fancy words you might use when talking about your hobbies

When talking about our hobbies, we want to come across as more knowledgeable than others. After all, they’re our special interests, and we naturally possess a greater deal of expertise in these areas.

Whether you’re into literature, movies, or sports, here are some fancy words you can use to describe your interests.


Accomplished/əˈkɑːmplɪʃt/Highly skilled and successful in a particular area.She's so accomplished in playing the guitar.
Admiration/ˌædməˈreɪʃən/A feeling of deep respect and appreciation for something.I have so much admiration for her art. She's incredibly talented.
Artistic/ɑːrˈtɪstɪk/Relating to or demonstrating creative skill and imagination.I really enjoy going to art galleries and exploring different artistic styles.
Captivating/ˈkæptɪveɪtɪŋ/Charming and attracting attention in an irresistible way.The movie we saw last night was so captivating it had us laughing and crying at the same time.
Cerebral/ˈsɛrəbrəl/Involving intellectual or deep thought.My favorite movies are the cerebral ones that make me think.
Connoisseur/ˌkɒnəˈsɜːr/A person with expert knowledge and appreciation of a specific field, such as art or wine.I’m a coffee connoisseur. I can tell you all about different coffee beans and brewing techniques whenever you want.
Eclectic/ɪˈklɛktɪk/Selecting and combining various styles and ideas from diverse sources.My taste in music is so eclectic. I listen to everything from rock to classical to hip-hop.
Enthralling/ɛnˈθrɔːlɪŋ/Captivating and holding one's attention.I started watching this new series on Netflix, and it's so enthralling, I can't stop binge-watching it!
Erudite/ˈɛrʊdaɪt/Showing great knowledge and learning in a particular subject.He's well-read and erudite. He always has fascinating stories and insights to share.
Flair/flɛr/A natural talent or distinctive style in doing something.I have a flair for baking. I love making cakes and decorating them.
Lucrative/ˈluːkrətɪv/Producing a great deal of profit or financial success.My hobby isn’t a lucrative one, but it brings me joy.
Luminary/ˈluːmɪnəri/A person who inspires and influences others in a particular field.She's a luminary in the fashion world. Her designs have inspired many aspiring designers.
Melodic/mɪˈlɑːdɪk/Pleasant-sounding and harmonious, like a beautiful melody.The song has such a melodic tune. It's been stuck in my head all day.
Resilient/rɪˈzɪliənt/Able to recover quickly from setbacks or difficulties.Sports has taught me how to be resilient. You need a lot of resilience to train!
Savvy/ˈsævi/Having practical knowledge and understanding, especially in a specific field.I’m really tech-savvy. Whenever someone has a computer problem, I can help.

Make the Thesaurus your new best friend

In this article, we’ve only covered 126 big words. Understandably, we can’t include all the fancy words you might need in one article. There are simply too many!

But luckily, there’s a free online tool you can use to find the synonyms of everyday words to expand your vocabulary and make yourself sound smarter.

Can you take a guess?

That’s right - it’s the online Thesaurus. You’ve surely heard about it from your English teacher, but in case you haven’t, Thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms and related concepts. It’s a great way to find synonyms of different words to spice up your oral or written statements and avoid repeating the same old boring words time and time again.

Choose your words wisely

Whether you’re using simple, everyday words in casual conversations or those big, fancy words in a professional or academic environment, remember one thing: words have power.

They’re spells that you cast (there’s a reason why it’s called “spelling”) onto yourself and those who you speak them to. The words you speak inspire emotions and shape how other people perceive you. But they also influence your own emotions and shape how you perceive yourself.

So choose them wisely.