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Are You Undermining Your Credibility with These Misused Words?

People often think that the key to sounding intelligent and articulate is using as many impressive vocabulary words as possible. However this can be risky; if you use words incorrectly, it can significantly undermine your credibility. Before adding a new word to your vocabulary, don’t just guess at its meaning from context. Actually take the time to look the word up and find out exactly what it means. Take a look at these commonly misused words and see if you’re using them the right way:

Disinterested: Often confused with “uninterested”, this word actually means “unbiased”.

Example: “The dispute should be resolved by a disinterested third party.”


Odious: This word is often used incorrectly to mean something that smells bad since it sounds like “odorous”. “Odious” actually means to cause feelings of hate.

Example: “The villain was a truly odious character.”


Enormity: Although they sound similar, “enormity” is not the quality of being “enormous”. Rather, it means being monstrous or immoral.

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


Nonplussed: People often mistakenly think that this word means calm or not flustered. However, it actually means, “confused” or “bewildered”.

Example: “I was completely nonplussed by the client’s negative reaction. I had no idea that they were unhappy.”


Bemused: Because this word sounds like amused, the two are often confused. Bemused actually has a similar meaning to nonplussed: “perplexed” or “confused”.

Example: “He was bemused by the overly complicated instructions.”

Remember: It’s much more important to speak with clarity and confidence than use a large vocabulary! Go beyond focusing on the words you use, and put effort into speaking in a clear,  confident manner that lets the world see you for the accomplished professional you are.

Need more help? You may benefit from professional accent reduction training! Give us a call and see how Corporate Speech Solutions can improve your professional life! Call us at 212-308-7725 or send us an e-mail at jayne@corporatespeechsolutions.com to learn more. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you might have!

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