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Dumb woman
Speak up

Open mouth, insert foot

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?

21. Due to

Definition: as observed as part of a natural state

This phrase is often used incorrectly in place of "because of," "owing to" or "through." (We understand electricity due to Benjamin Franklin.) It should only be used when one thing explains something else's natural state. (Grass is green due to a chemical used during photosynthesis.)

22. Duh/doh

Definition: used to express annoyance at stupidity or obviousness

Not only is it inappropriate to express this type of feeling professionally, you end up sounding like the stupid one.

23. Epic

Definition: heroic or majestic, usually pertaining to a long journey fraught with danger

When used too casually, it comes off as slang. It was an epic business trip if it lasted weeks and you came home with double the sales you expected. If you went to Vegas and partied too hard when you should've been working, that's not the right word.

24. Erudite

Definition: scholarly

There is nothing wrong with this word as long as you pronounce it correctly. It's AIR-YOO-DAHYT, not AIR-EE-UH-DAHYT.

25. Excape vs. escape

What is it with Americans and words with the SK sound in them? The word is ES-CAPE.

26. Exetera vs. etcetera

Typically written as "etc." and pronounced without the X sound so commonly heard. Correct pronunciation is ET-SET-UH-RUH

27. Expresso vs. espresso

If you want coffee made in a French press instead of a machine, you want an expresso (with an X). But if you're referring to the strong Italian coffee used to make cappuccino, the word is "espresso."

28. Fabulous

Definition: almost impossible to believe

This word is overused. Is it really fabulous that the customer is ready to buy? Only if there's something you know about your product that we don't.

29. Farther vs. further

Farther measures physical distance. (Lonnie ran farther than Judith.) Further refers to metaphorical or figurative distance. (If I hear any further complaints, I'll pull this car over right now.) It's easy to remember because farther has the word "far" in it and far implies distance.

30. February

Definition: the second month of the year

This word is a bit difficult for people with certain accents to say, and may require some practice, but it can be annoying to those who don't have the same accent. It's pronounced FEB-ROO-AIR-EE.

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Comments on "100 Words that instantly make you sound dumber"

namo March 10, 2014 | 8:47 PM

"Could care less" is an idiom for goodness sake and is generally understood as such in much the same way that we all know that "fat chances" are the same as "slim ones" !!! This particular "correction" is popular but nonsensical for the reason stated and is,frankly, rather pretentious.

K January 20, 2014 | 4:02 PM

Heather Barnett, you really should have thought about your own knowledge of the English language before taking it upon yourself to write an article on correct word usage. It seems as though most of the comments here are corrections. Speaking of which, I have one more to add to that list. Saying "photographic memory" is okay when used correctly. You wouldn't automatically be wrong in saying that. It's true that it is often used interchangeably with the term "eidetic memory", but rest assured that these are, in fact, two different things.

Topher January 17, 2014 | 11:22 PM

#27 There is no such word as expresso. Coffee made in a French press is simply coffee.

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No name August 27, 2013 | 5:17 PM

Disregard my post about "contentious" -- I misread the entry. Sorry!

Sarah August 27, 2013 | 3:46 PM

In number 16, I think the writer means "apathetic" rather than "ambivalent."

No name August 27, 2013 | 2:57 PM

Many of these are good, but you're wrong about "contentious." One definition is "likely to cause an argument." In that sense, "controversial" is a synonym.

Warren August 14, 2013 | 2:08 AM

The writer of this piece misused the word "hopefully" in one of her examples. In my eyes, she seemed "less than intelligent" because of this.

May August 11, 2013 | 2:54 PM

Hmm, #51's example use of "ironically" is just a situation of bad luck; the two events are completely unrelated. How about "Ironically, Telisia had declared bankruptcy the day before learning of her $5 million lottery win" instead?

Linda July 25, 2013 | 6:19 PM

I always thought "orientated" was incorrect, until I looked it up. It is, indeed, correct.

teresa July 23, 2013 | 5:54 PM

How about "supposably" and "functionable"?

Lisa Mack July 23, 2013 | 12:16 PM

You're missing my favorite! Reinterate!!

Julie July 22, 2013 | 5:09 PM

And "verbiage" doesn't make it on either list, I'm gobsmacked...

Unita July 22, 2013 | 12:31 AM

Hi. This is very good. Please check #77 and #78, though....looks like we have the same explanation for both :)

Matt July 21, 2013 | 12:39 PM

Oh geez, look at #55: "OK in it's other uses..." Misuse of its and it's should be #1 on this list (yeah, it's alphabetical, but you know what I mean...)! I would call this ironic(al), but I'm sure somebody out there is ready to, um, school me on how that concept is itself misapplied.

Dixie July 17, 2013 | 8:31 PM

My husband and I argue over the use/meaning of the word attribute versus contribute. I say attribute means to give credit to but the dictionary shows both words to have such similar meanings that I don't know how to help him to understand that attribute is correct. Can you give me a good example of how each word should be used?

Rob Kaiser July 17, 2013 | 12:18 PM

Good list, but you left out "utilize."

Cristina Sierra July 17, 2013 | 10:16 AM

Heather, I want to point out a small error - Irregardless is not a word except in Boston where it IS a word but it is pronounced IrreGAHdless. No need for the "r". JK :-) Thanks for the list!

Candice July 17, 2013 | 8:24 AM

This is a great list! I just want to point out a quick mistake. Peruse means "to examine thoroughly," but people often use it as a synonym for skim.

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