Words That Make You Sound Smart – 12 Ideas

3 – Caterwauling

Definition of Caterwauling: To make shrill, wailing cries. Like cats in heat.

Any cat owner knows exactly what I’m talking about here. Angry or frustrated cats have a talent for making a tremendous amount of high pitched whining and yowling. Particularly when they’re in the mood to meet another cat. It’s um…noisy….

And that makes this a perfect word to describing someone who is screaming, whining, and complaining about something, usually with more noise than logic. The opposite of using words that make you sound smart.

Sample Uses:

“I invited her over for a glass of whine but I’m not sure she heard me with her children’s caterwauling.”

Our Next word is for exceptionally cranky people….

4 – Ornery

Definition of Ornery: Bad Tempered and Combative. Stubborn. Surly. Testy.

This word appeared about two hundred years ago and refers to people and things who are grumpy and generally not cooperative. Think about the mule that doesn’t want to carry a load, the dog who doesn’t want to walk nicely on a leash, or the small child who doesn’t want to put their shoes on. Particularly if they decide to snap back at you in the process.

It’s a perfect word to describe someone who’s being an obstinate roadblock to letting you get things done, especially if they start nipping back at you.

Sample Uses:

“I asked Karen to clean up her room this afternoon but she’s being pretty ornery about it.”

This is a good lead in to our next word, which describes how you will feel after dealing with ornery people all day.

5 – Ambivalent

Definition of Ambivalent: Having mixed feelings about a person or course of action; being unable to choose between two (usually) opposing options.

This word is a fantastic way to indicate that you just don’t care about a particular issue, especially if you’re burnt out from a bunch of drama and emotion along the way. Being ambivalent means you’re more or less equally happy with any of the courses of action presented to you or possible outcomes.

This is actually a relatively new word – the first recorded use was about a hundred years ago. A more thoughtful interpretation would be to view ambivalence as what happens when each of the possible solutions to a situation has positive and negative aspects and these effects cancel each other out. Consider, for example, a loud and nasty political campaign where both candidates bombard you with annoying commercials about how great they are and how evil the other candidate is. Voters can be expected to grow ambivalent to the whole process (and change the channel).

Sample Uses:

“He was in my office again, indicating that if we don’t promote him he will quit. With the amount of drama he’s created, I’m completely ambivalent at this point….”

Translation: I no longer care. But said much more intelligently, of course….

Our next word is great when you want to talk about getting things done…

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