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Stacey Leasca
July 3, 2018

We’re sure you’ve all heard the saying, “choose your words carefully.” And that couldn’t be more true for conversations where you’re trying to sound smart.

And, sure, you are smart. You must be if you’re reading an article like this in an attempt to better yourself and your conversational abilities. We’re sure you know that using the wrong words can undermine your chances at landing a new job, getting a second date, and can even make you appear more stressed.

So, to help you improve your communication tactics we’ve rounded up nine words that will make you sound like the smartest smarty pants in the room. (All definitions via Dictionary.com and examples via Merriam-Webster.)

Instead of “explain” try “elucidate.”

Definition: To make lucid or clear; throw light upon; explain.
Example: When asked for details, he declined to elucidate further.

Instead of “careless” try “perfunctory.”

Definition: Lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm; indifferent or apathetic.
Example: The eight-time Pro Bowl player sometimes goes several weeks without agreeing to do even the most perfunctory postgame interviews

Instead of “demanding” try “fastidious.”

Definition: Excessively particular, critical, or demanding; hard to please.
Example: He is fastidious about keeping the house clean.

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Instead of “grim” try “lurid.”

Definition: Gruesome; horrible; revolting.
Example: The light from the fire cast a lurid glow on everything.

Instead of “suck up” try “sycophant.”

Definition: A self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.
Example: When her career was riding high, the self-deluded actress often mistook sycophants for true friends.

Instead of “anxiety” try “malaise.”

Definition: A vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort.
Example: The country's current economic problems are symptoms of a deeper malaise.

Instead of “confuse” try “obfuscate.”

Definition: To confuse, bewilder, or stupefy.
Example: Politicians keep obfuscating the issues.

Instead of “exciting” try “scintillating.”

Definition: Animated; vivacious; effervescent.
Example: Game 5 of that series, the Astros' scintillating 13-12, ten-inning, five hour and 17 minute victory, is nominated for Best Game.

Instead of “brag” try “bloviate.”

Definition: to speak pompously.
Example: That’s a good and under-appreciated quality in our age of bloviated self-promotion.