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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Definition: obvious or self-evident; based on one or more axioms
Example: It’s axiomatic that great salespeople have solid communication skills.
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.
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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