Getting ready for a job interview at a big company? Meeting your girlfriend’s parents, a couple of Harvard professors? Got a hot date with an English major? May we suggest using words that make you sound smart?
You’re gonna need to step up your game in the language department….
The trick to using words that make you sound smart like a pro is to make sure you’re completely on point and use them sparingly. Know that fool who managed to drop the word strategy in every paragraph at work? Yeah, we all think they’re a bozo too. Everything isn’t a strategy and you don’t need to demonstrate you can turn strategy into a verb, adjective, adverb, and pronoun (we’re pushing it with that one, but you get my point). Say it ONCE and be completely right….
So without further preening, her’s our list of a dozen words that make you sound smart:
1 – Pontificate
Definition of Pontificate: To speak in a strong and proud fashion. To present your thoughts with complete confidence as if they were absolutely correct and command the attention of those present.
This word originated from the traditions of the Catholic popes, who were frequently consulted on messy religious disputes that lower priests in the Catholic church hadn’t been able to agree about. Unlike lower priests, the pope has a trump card he can use to settle these arguments. The pope has the option of issuing a solemn papal definition on a particular question, which is automatically viewed by the church as being infallible and without error. Boom! Argument Over…
This policy is part of the official dogma (another great word) of the church, which is a set of beliefs which are accepted without being questioned or doubted. While not particularly democratic, it does have the benefit of letting the pope settle an argument and tell people to start moving forward again.
So the definition of pontificate is to speak as if you were the pope, with the expectation that you are completely correct and your audience has no other option but to listen to you. It is a strong assertive style which commands respect. Or you can use it sarcastically to talk about someone who likes to talk but doesn’t have a clue what they are doing.
“We gave her a microphone and an audience. I expect she will pontificate for a while…”
Our second word is very similar to this, giving you two ways to discuss this kind of behavior….
2 – Dogmatic
Definition of Dogmatic: Expressing your personal opinions or beliefs as if they were absolutely correct and immune to doubt or error…
This word arrived in the English language about four hundred years ago, borrowed from the Greek language dogmatikos which means “pertaining to doctrines”. This is another reference to the concept of church dogma, the set of beliefs which all church members are expected to accept without question.
The meaning of this word has evolved a bit since then. It was originally a very positive compliment – a dogmatic person was one who stood their ground in arguing for things most people thought were right. It’s modern usage has a negative slant: while a dogmatic person is expressing a strong opinion, it now has the implication that they haven’t spent much thinking for themselves and are merely repeating what others have told them to say. OUCH……
“She dogmatically repeated her belief that the books should be removed from the school library.”.
Our cat is looking at me funny, so it’s time to throw her a bone… (Next Word)