When I was eight years old, my English vocabulary contained about twenty words, most of them along the lines of “hello” and “goodbye”.
Fast-forward to now, and English is the language of my soul. The journey hasn’t been easy, but do you know what helped me the most?
But reading hasn’t only taught me basic English skills. The perk of literature is that it can elevate your language to an entirely new level – a level of eloquence.
Here are 15 big fancy words that will help you sound smart and eloquent.
Imagine a co-worker called Lucy is telling you some dramatic story about her personal life.
In the first scenario, Lucy says, “I’m just not, like, sure, you know? Like, what should I do? It’s so tricky… I dunno.”
In the second scenario, Lucy shakes her head and sighs, “I don’t know… It’s such a conundrum.”
Which sounds more eloquent?
“Conundrum” is the perfect word to use if you want to express your frustration over a difficult problem. Not only does it pinpoint the situation precisely, but it also makes you sound smarter.
We all love mystery. Mystery is seductive; it’s intriguing; it keeps us hooked.
But what do you say when you want to describe someone who’s mysterious without repeating the same adjective over and over again?
“Enigmatic” comes to the rescue!
“She’s so enigmatic… I never know what she thinks.”
The word sounds beautiful, and what’s more, it automatically boosts your eloquence levels.
“Essentially” is one of those words that toe the line between fancy and ordinary, which makes it the perfect option for people who don’t want to sound too pompous but are also fed up with using “basically” all the time.
“This is essentially the same technique you used before, but with a slight tweak.”
“It’s essentially a marketing strategy.”
“This book is essentially a romance, but there’s more to it than just a love triangle.”
Just as “Basically” refers to the most important basis of something, “Essentially” is about the innermost essence.
Another fancy word that expresses the same sentiment is “Fundamentally”.
Have your pick.
While I was at university, all my professors kept throwing this word around – and for a good reason. “Juxtaposition” not only sounds smart but it also perfectly describes a very specific idea.
If you posit two contrasting images next to each other, the obvious difference is what’s called a juxtaposition.
For example, let’s say you’re in a museum and you’re looking at two paintings, one of which perfectly portrays the clarity of daylight and the other the mystery of the night sky.
The contrast and harmony between them might bring such a sense of marvel that you exclaim, “What a striking juxtaposition!”
The person next to you will definitely think you’re smart.
Here comes another go-to word in academic circles. This one’s very popular in literature, too – it comes in handy when you want to describe the behavior of a peculiar character.
“He was so unlike his classmates, his behavior so very idiosyncratic, that he stood out without even trying.”
“Idiosyncratic” essentially means (see what I did there?) that the person or product in question is very unusual or strange. Plenty of things can be idiosyncratic, from people to films, writing styles, or ideas.
Again, “Dystopian” is a word that isn’t all too fancy – it’s got a long way to go before it reaches the heights of “Idiosyncratic” – but that’s uncommon enough to make you look intelligent.
“What are you reading?”
“A dystopian novel. It’s a bit like 1984 by George Orwell.”
If you haven’t heard the word “Dystopian” before, it’s an adjective that describes an imagined state of society – a state that’s the opposite of “Utopian”.
While a utopia is a state where all people live in harmony and happiness, a dystopia occurs when society is built on the foundations of injustice, fear, and suffering. Both are usually imagined as taking place in the future.
Speaking of books, “Catharsis” is a feeling you may experience after having read a really good one.
In the fields of theatre or literature, “Catharsis” is the final stage of storytelling. It’s what happens after a resolution has been reached and the reader or audience are transported back into reality but can’t quite shake off the message of the story they’ve just experienced, thinking about it for days and slowly releasing that energy.
But catharsis occurs in other areas of life, too. It’s a state of relief and healing because you’re releasing something suppressed or heavy, such as a negative emotion.
“The song helped him find catharsis.”
“Talking about her experiences out loud was very cathartic for her.”
Moving on to one of my favorite words in the English dictionary, “Serendipitous” describes a situation where something good happens by complete chance.
For instance, you might run into a good friend you haven’t seen in ages while doing grocery shopping or you may find twenty dollars in your old jeans while sorting out your wardrobe.
When such a fortunate incident occurs, you can say, “Wow! This is so serendipitous!” or “What a moment of serendipity!”
Another wonderful adjective on our list is “Quintessential”, which could also be described as “the perfect example”.
“This painting is quintessential Renaissance art.”
“She was the quintessential high school queen.”
“Soy is the quintessential vegan product.”
Of course, you could always just say “the perfect example of”, but that just doesn’t sound as smart.
Let’s compare two sentences.
“He was in love with her.”
“He was completely besotted with her.”
While both are correct, the latter drives the point home with much more strength and passion. “Besotted” gives the feeling of infatuation more power; it describes the magnanimity of love more precisely.
Just try saying it out loud: “Completely besotted.”
“In love” just doesn’t quite reach that intensity.
“Ubiquitous” means “found everywhere”. It slightly differs from “Omnipresent”, which is more along the lines of “exists everywhere”.
For example, you could say, “My brother’s influence on me is so ubiquitous that I see him in a lot of the decisions I make.”
Or get this: “Social media is becoming so ubiquitous that it impacts how we act in real life.”
“Ubiquitous” is quite a rare word to hear on the street, so it’ll definitely help you stand out if that’s what you’re aiming for.
Do you ever wish you could express just how firm your opinion is?
This fancy word comes in handy when you want to make sure your decision or opinion is expressed perfectly clearly.
“My stance on the topic is unequivocally clear, and I won’t change my mind no matter what you say.”
You can also use the word to describe something: “All of her work is unequivocally religious.”
“Unequivocally” basically means “without a doubt”. If something’s as clear as can be, it’s unequivocal.
I like to use this fancy little word when I speak about my writing work. “My work is so cerebral that I need frequent breaks so as not to fry my brain.”
You’ve probably already guessed what it means – “Cerebral” refers to the brain and intellect.
If something’s cerebral, it means it uses a lot of brain power or relates to the brain in some way.
If you’re ever talking about work, for instance, you can say, “Administration is very cerebral work, which is why I go to the gym during my lunch break to decompress.”
I love it when people describe their loved ones as vivacious. It’s such a beautiful word. If someone ever called me that, I’d consider it a huge compliment.
“Vivacious” translates to “Lively”, but that description doesn’t do it justice.
At its core, “Vivacious” is all about zest for life. A vivacious person brightens up the room upon entering, bravely throws themselves into the depths of life’s challenges, and forges their own path in the world with an optimistic mindset.
Someone who’s vivacious is brimming with life energy. And it’s absolutely enchanting to be in their presence.
Our last big fancy word is “Capricious”, which is very rare indeed.
“Capricious” essentially means “moody” or “unpredictable”, except it sounds better.
“She was so capricious – I never knew what to expect.”
“The climate here is very capricious. It changes all the time.”
Just say it out loud. Roll it in your mouth. It sounds so eloquent, doesn’t it?
And now it’s part of your vocabulary, together with fourteen other fancy words!
It is up to you to decide which ones you want to incorporate into your day-to-day life in order to sound smart and boost your eloquence.
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