Having a good vocabulary is a very dangerous impressiveness tactic. The risk is much higher than the reward. But, you know, you only live once and other Drake lyrics, so let’s talk about it anyway.

How can it go wrong?

  1. You use the word incorrectly. Usually people who notice are polite and don’t say anything. They just judge you silently.

  2. You pronounce it incorrectly. People are generally more vocal with this one. One time, I pronounced “divisive” with a z sound instead of like “device” and a white guy asked me if English was my first language. I told him I scored a 770 on my SAT critical reading and writing. That’s right, I just told you my SAT scores because I tell true stories. Apparently, I’m also shameless.

  3. You pronounce and use the word correctly, but force it. This kid I went to highschool with said everything was a plethora of somethings. I don’t know what to say about this one. People definitely notice and I think generally find it annoying.

Basically what I’m saying is learn how to use pronunciation guides (or use the little speaker button when you google words), learn definitions, and then make it seem effortless. Easy. Actually, I just googled “antecedent” and it doesn’t have the little speaker, so yeah, learn pronunciation guides or risk ridicule.

So how do you actually learn new words? I’ll write about that some other time. For now, you’ll just have make do with some words that have come up in my conversations recently.

Malapropism (noun): the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, “dance a flamingo ” (instead of flamenco).

This is great for making fun of people on two levels. I’m not cruel, I swear.

Gauche (adjective): lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward.

It also means left (the opposite of right) in French. You can drop that fact any time someone else uses this word. It’ll be impressive to anyone around who hasn’t taken first year French.

Panoply (noun): a complete or impressive collection of things; a splendid display.

Basically our blog.

Insouciance (noun): casual lack of concern; indifference.

It’s like laziness, but cool. Also how I try to dress. Nothing is cooler than not caring.

Also, I know you’ve been wondering this since you read it earlier - what did I score on math? I guess you’ll have to wait on a math-related blog post that also has an SAT score-related anecdote.