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100 Words that instantly make you sound dumber

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...

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The way you speak with friends may be inappropriate in a professional situation. Are you sabotaging your career with any of these words that make you sound less than intelligent?

Whether you're using a word inappropriately, mispronouncing it or just using work-inappropriate slang, strike these 100 words and phrases from your professional vocabulary. Click any word below to learn why that word is often hit-or-miss.

1. Actually

Definition: used to signify something exists in reality or is present

You can use this when you need to convey that something is true, but avoid it as a way to add extra punch to your sentence. There's no need to tell someone "he actually said to me." If you're telling the story, that's the presumption.

2. Adverse vs. averse

Adverse means undesirable. Averse means reluctant, so don't say, "It caused averse effects."

3. Ain't

Definition: a colloquial contraction often used in place of isn't, aren't, am not, etc.

It may be in the dictionary, but it's still nonstandard and associated by most with uneducated speech.

4. Affidavid vs. affidavit

There's no such thing as an affidavid. The word is pronounced AF-I-DAVE-IT. The difference is negligible in some dialects, but be careful nonetheless.

5. Antidote vs. anecdote

An antidote is a medicine to counteract a poison (literally or metaphorically). An anecdote is a story one tells, generally to illustrate a point.

6. As to whether

This is a common phrase people use because they think it sounds smarter or fancier. Just say "whether."

7. Ask vs. aks

Because "aks" a colloquial pronunciation in some areas, it may be acceptable locally, but be careful in the business world — people from most regions think it sounds childish (like "pasketti").

8. Asterik(s) vs. asterisk

It's just a tiny little symbol denoted by the star character above your eight key, but it does have a name, and it's ASS-TUH-RISK.

9. Catastrophical

Not a word. Use catastrophic instead.

10. Chester drawers

Unless you're referring to Chester's underwear, it's "chest of drawers."

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