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

61. Paramount

Definition: superior, supreme

Example: The issue of paramount importance is whether the baby is healthy. Everything else is something we can deal with.

62. Peruse

Definition: skim, review

Example: Alexis was annoyed when Dan only perused the document before declaring her work unimpressive.

63. Philistine

Definition: a person who is lacking in or hostile toward accepted cultural values or social refinement

Example: You don’t like Shiraz? You philistine!

64. Polemic

Definition: highly controversial

Example: The prostate cancer awareness advertisements featuring male celebrities in the buff (with only their key parts covered) is polemic, but effective.

65. Proclivity

Definition: natural tendency, disposition

Example: Trying to curb her proclivity for micromanagement, Diamond gave her employee carte blanche on the first draft of the proposal.

66. Procure

Definition: to seek and gain ownership of something

Example: Michelle was able to procure a computer that was able to read a floppy disk.

67. Proxy

Definition: the authority to represent someone else in an official capacity

Example: Rosalida acted as a proxy, paying the bills and taking care of her siblings while her mother took a month-long business trip.

68. Quid pro quo

Definition: something given for something taken (you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours)

Example: Jazmin and Nathan had a quid pro quo arrangement — she took his desk near her friend and he got her desk near the girl he has a crush on.

69. Quintessential

Definition: a perfect example or the pure essence of something

Example: Having learned to cook from her mother, who’s from Cabo San Lucas, Lisa had confidence she could open the quintessential Mexican restaurant in the states.

70. Quixotic

Definition: pursuing a seemingly unreachable or ambitious goal; idealist, impractical or both

Example: Dawn’s quixotic vision paid off when, to her boss’s surprise, her formula worked.

Up next: More words that instantly make you sound smarter

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