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

11. Cacophony/cacophonous

Definition: harsh, dissonant sounds

Example: The sudden sound of a cell phone only added to the cacophony of the boardroom executives’ heated shouting.

12. Capitulate

Definition: to stop fighting or surrender (as in a social battle or negotiation)

Example: The CEO refused to capitulate to Terry’s salary demands, so she tendered her resignation.

13. Catch-22 

Definition: a lose-lose paradox in which the only solution to problem is prevented by circumstance or often a means of entrapment or political maneuvering (from the novel of the same name)

Example: Lolita’s boss presented her with a catch-22 — she couldn’t work another shift without a doctor’s sign-off, but couldn’t afford another doctor’s appointment without a paycheck.

More: 104 Urban Dictionary Slang Words That Have Made Us What We Are Today

14. Cavalier

Definition: disdainful or unceremonious

Example: His cavalier attitude toward customers made the manager wonder if he had any respect for others.

15. Chimera

Definition: something or a combination of things that’s so odd or improbable that it shouldn’t logically exist, but does

Example: The software suite of billing and graphic design software was a chimera, but the company managed to sell enough units to make a profit.

16. Clandestine

Definition: something done in secret, usually with a hidden or nefarious agenda

Example: The president had to fire her vice president when she found out he was making clandestine deals with the competition.

17. Cogent

Definition: well-reasoned, logical and compelling

Example: Ally’s points were well founded, but her inability to present a cogent argument left the stockholders wondering if she was the right woman for the job.

18. Conundrum

Definition: a difficult problem

Example: Jackie was charged with solving the shipping conundrum before the company lost money.

19. Cronyism

Definition: partiality to one’s friends, often evidenced by favors or promotions they don’t deserve or are unqualified for

Example: The boss’ cronyism became apparent when he appointed his fraternity brother’s deadbeat son as vice president.

20. Delineate

Definition: to precisely describe or outline

Example: To ensure things ran smoothly, the team moved to the conference room to delineate their plan on the whiteboard before beginning the project.

Up next: More words that instantly make you sound smarter

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