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5 Words That Make You Sound Stupid

Words that make you sound stupid
Photo: iStock

Most of us have been criticized by friends (playfully) and English teachers (earnestly) for slipping up and using words incorrectly in a sentence. While many of us like to think we have all our basic grammar principles down, we still misuse some common words in our everyday conversations. But did you know that some of these words can make you sound stupid?

Thesaurus.com compiled a short list of these words that we carelessly slip into sentences to give ourselves more time to think and, in doing so, ruin the sentence. These so-called “crutch words” detract from your main message and don’t add useful meaning to your statement.

“It’s human nature to rely on crutch words,” the site states. “They’re the comfy sweatpants of our vocabularies. So familiar, so bland, so cozy that you slip them into your sentences without even realizing it.”

Okay, fine, but, like, what’s wrong with using them?

“Like fashion disasters, word disasters say a lot about you,” the site explains. “In some cases, these crutch words are flat-out wrong. In other cases, they’re technically correct, but they’ll ruin an otherwise decent sentence, communicating to everyone you’re not specific or adventurous with your word choices.”

So, what are some commonly used crutch words? Check out the list below of words that make you sound stupid. You may be able to tone them down once you know. Or, you may want to pass this bit of wisdom on to someone in your life who uses them too frequently.

Sharing is caring, after all.

Words That Make You Sound Stupid

1. Well
If you’re presenting important information to colleagues, starting a sentence with “well” softens the impact of what you’re trying to say. Their suggestion if you really need a transition word at the beginning of your sentence?

  • furthermore
  • in fact
  • consequently
  • therefore

2. So
Often used as a hanging ending to a sentence — and popularized on the show Schitt’s Creek — it’s a “linguistic hedge.” When used at the end of a sentence, it’s as if you can’t make your point. At the beginning? It makes you sound nervous.

3. Literally
This is one of the most overused words. It’s an adverb that should be used to describe an action that occurs in a strict sense. However, most people use it inversely to emphasize a hyperbolic or figurative statement. “I literally exploded with anger!” 

Thesaurus.com suggests using words like “totally” or “absolutely” instead. For example: “I absolutely exploded with anger.”

4. Look
This may go without saying, but the word look is being used so the person can see something. In this case, it’s often used hoping that the person will understand and appreciate the emphasis of what you’re saying.

“But, does it help in providing that understanding?” asks Thesauras.com. “Not at all, and when used repeatedly, the listener might not want to understand.

5. Like
It’s the one we all use far too often, birthed from the Valley Girls of yore. The word “is interspersed in dialogue to give a speaker more time to think or because the speaker cannot shake the habit of using the word. Like should describe something of the same form, appearance, kind, character, or amount. But, very often, it is used involuntarily in conversation, just like um.”

So stop using it. Like, if you can…

Want more word knowledge? Thesaurus.com compiled 20 for their list. Check them out here.

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