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Words You Don’t Know You’re Misusing

Over the past two blogs we’ve discussed some common errors in speech and writing that many people unknowingly make on a regular basis. This week, we’ll wrap up our error series with three vocabulary words many people insert into their speech without entirely understanding what they mean.

Many people try to use larger vocabulary words in an attempt to sound more intelligent. However, it is far better to use simple vocabulary than misuse a word. Familiarize yourself with the correct, and commonly used incorrect definitions of the following words to help prevent making a vocabulary faux pas:


INCORRECT definition: calm, not worried.

“She had prepared so thoroughly for her presentation, that she was completely nonplussed when the CEO asked if he could watch.”

CORRECT definition: perplexed, confused

“The secretary’s handwriting was so messy, he simply stared at the memo nonplussed, unable to understand a word of it.”


INCORRECT definition: amused

“Rob was bemused at the comical story.”

 CORRECT definition: confused (similar to nonplussed)

“My boss was bemused by the overly complicated minutes of the meeting.”


INCORRECT definition: the quality of being very large

“They were awed by the enormity of the canyon.”

 CORRECT definition: the quality of being monstrous or very immoral

“The enormity of the crimes committed during the war was truly disturbing.”

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