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Words That Make You Sound Smarter — Because, Yes, We All Need a Little Help

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

You know you're smart — but when you use the right vocab words, everyone else will too

It's happened to all of us. You're holding court at work or a party, the conversation is flowing and you are on it. Until you aren't. You start stuttering, looking for that perfect word that's on the tip of your tongue. Darn it, if you just had the right word you'd sound so smart.

We know you're smart, you know you're smart, but sometimes it's just hard to articulate thoughts — if you brush up on some vocab, however, you'll be ready to spout off a ton of words that will totally let everyone know just how witty and together you are.

Whether you have a job interview, want to impress your boss, or just want to sound a little more intellectual on a regular basis, these 100 words will instantly make you sound like the smartest person in the room.

1. Acrimony

Definition: Bitterness, especially in vocabulary or mannerisms

Example: The discussion began with such acrimony, it was clear to the lawyer this was going to be a tense contract negotiation.

More: The Real Reason You Procrastinate — & How to Fix It

2. Acquiesce

Definition: consent without objection, even after previously objecting

Example: When the salesman realized he was going to lose the sale unless he threw in a free tire rotation that the customer wanted, he acquiesced.

3. Adept

Definition: being highly skilled or well trained in a particular discipline; an expert

Example: She's an adept graphic designer and was headhunted by a rival company.

4. Adulation

Definition: excessive praise, admiration or flattery

Example: The adulation from thousands of excited fans faced by Justin Bieber would make most people uncomfortable, but he seems to enjoy it.

5. Ambivalent

Definition: uncertainty when choosing between two options (often involving fluctuating or contradictory emotions)

Example: Sienna knew she had to make a decision, but she just felt ambivalent, so she flipped a coin.

6. Anomaly

Definition: abnormality, often a red flag that there may be a greater issue

Example: Jennifer found an anomaly in the profit projections that proved to be evidence of embezzlement.

7. Avant-garde

Definition: unorthodox, experimental or progressive work in any field (usually relating to the arts) or the group who forwards the concept (Tim Burton or E.E. Cummings)

Example: The new ad agency's concept may be too avant-garde for our more traditional image.

8. Axiomatic

Definition: obvious or self-evident; based on one or more axioms

Example: It's axiomatic that great salespeople have solid communication skills.

9. Bourgeois/bourgeoisification/bourgeoisify

Definition: striving for but lacking the sophistication of the ultra rich while also lacking the "authenticity" of the working class (often a pejorative term in the U.S.)

Example: The bourgeois attitude of modern culture has changed how many high-end retailers do business.

10. Byzantine

Definition: devious and surreptitious operation

Example: Lauren's high personal ethics made it difficult for her to work for such a byzantine company, so she tendered her resignation.

Up next: More words that instantly make you sound smarter

Originally published July 2013. Updated August 2017.

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