Desiree Villena is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace for self-publishing authors; when she's not writing for them, she enjoys penning her own (not-too-purple) short stories and poetry.
Everyone wants to sound impressive at times. Whether you’re showing off your vocabulary as a flirtatious ploy or because you’re hoping to land a deal with an elite literary agent, it’s only natural to fluff up your feathers sometimes and strut around like you rule the roost.
But you know what makes you look like the biggest turkey of all? Trying to sound smarter than you really are.
Yes, it’s great to learn new words and expand your vocabulary — but let’s all make sure we’re actually learning them, not just using things we think sound “smart” without looking them up first, or after forgetting their original meaning! Those word-of-the-day calendars are futile without proper application, and even a long-remembered SAT word is all too easily misused many years after the fact.
Basically, from a misplaced “whom” to some overly-academic jargon that muddles your meaning, you’ll get your point across much better (and be a much more genial person to spend time with), if you use language and grammar you understand.
Remember the golden rule of children’s books: even simple words, used cleverly and well, can move people’s hearts.
Word to use today: bloviate. But please only use it if you actually know what it means.
(Sally has now looked up the word bloviate so the rest of us needn't:
Bloviate is American English, first used in 1845 Ohio in the sense to talk aimlessly and boastingly. The word seems to be an expanded version of the word blow.
The word soon began to mean using long words and ornate language inaccurately.)