These Fancy Words Make You Sound Like An Arse

These Fancy Words Make You Sound Like An Arse
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Once upon a time, I worked for a newspaper. And that newspaper was looking for ways to cut costs, which meant a combination of layoffs, buyouts and mandatory unpaid time off. In order to create the same amount of content with fewer people, we would need to get creative. We should all, management told us, look for ways to repurpose our news articles.

This felt to most of us like a smarmy way of saying, “Let’s just reuse some shit when we have to, mmmkay?” You want us to slap a new lede on something and run it in another section? Fine. But let’s not pretend this is some brilliant new journalistic tactic by calling it something fancy.

They also called the mandatory unpaid time off “furloughs.” You see, fancy words that make you sound like an arse are all around you. And it’s time you know so you can stop using them.

Agreed. Juxtapose can go. These words can, too:

  • Utilise. Just say “use.” You’re gonna use it.

  • Detritus. Detritus is garbage, and you know it.

  • Plethora. Too much, eh? (I’m not crazy about myriad, either, as long as we’re talking about excessive ways to say “a bunch.”)

  • Curate. Well, aren’t you fancy when you’re selecting and organising things!

  • Authored. Saying “authored” instead of “wrote” doesn’t make your writing any more impressive. (Ditto, penned.)

  • Panacea. Sounds like the disease, rather than the cure, if you ask me.

  • Existential. You so smart.

  • Meta. What does this even mean?

  • Synergy. Oh, give me a break. This isn’t a real thing.

  • Penultimate. I can almost guarantee you’re not even using this right.

  • Splendiferous. What? No.

  • Loquacious. Talkative.

  • Cadre. Group.

  • Signage. Signs.

  • Stick-to-itiveness. Just, ugh.

  • Anything that ends with -gate.

I’m getting tired. I can’t possibly name them all. Here’s a good test to figure out whether you’re using a regular word or a fancy word that’s going to make people sigh internally and pretend to like you: Is there a simpler word? Yeah? Utilise that one.

Am I telling you that you have to dumb down your vocabulary for the rest of us idiots? No, I’m just telling you that if you don’t, you sound like a dick.



  • Speaking of pronouncing croissant in French, it’s far more annoying that Anglophones generally just pronounce ANY foreign word in “mock French”, regardless of whether it’s Italian or Chinese or whatever, even though they haven’t a clue how to speak French in the first place .

    The BEST example of this is how Anglophones pronounce “lingerie”. If the French pronounced it the way it’s pronounced in English, it should be written “langeré”

    • Agreed. As a Japanese, I hate how people mispronounce Japanese words like “karaoke” and especially “emoji”. When Anglophones say emoji, it sounds like they are saying “potato character”.

    • Given how much cross-pollination there is between English and French, what you interpret as “mock French” may well represent correct pronunciation for an English speaker. For example, the North American pronunciation of a leading “h” (or lack there-of).
      Plus, English pronunciation is all over the place…

  • I was once at a course where the instructor said “If your technician’s skill-set includes the use of an oscilliscope…” and the other non-Californian and I looked at each other and mouthed “can” (as in, “if your technician _can_ use an oscilliscope”)

    Deciding on whether an imported word has become Anglicised enough, though, is a bit tricky. If I say “val-ett” instead of “val-ay” (because that’s how the people who have one would say it) risks sounding ignorant, for example.

  • Ok, anyone want to educate me on the correct English pronunciation of “croissant”? While I’m an English speaker, the parent who taught me how to say it also speaks a fair bit of French, and I’ve heard about 100 different pronunciations of it from English-speakers.

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