Words have enormous power.
If you’ve ever been in a court of law and watched an attorney argue his or her case then you know exactly what I mean.
But words also have huge social and reputational power.
Here are words to avoid like the plague if you want to be a classier person.
Most of us have said the f-word at some point.
Maybe even several times.
There are situations where it can be delivered just right and when necessary.
But by and large, dropping f-bombs just isn’t classy.
It also betrays a notable lack of self-discipline and self-control, both of which mark you as rather low-class.
I know I’m certainly f*cking trying to.
If you didn’t understand or hear what somebody said, you have quite a few options.
Among the worst of your potential responses is “huh?”
This makes you sound like proof that humanity hasn’t evolved much past the early days of the cavemen.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not an image I’d like to cultivate (although beards are pretty cool, and cave women likely had a certain primal allure).
Slightly higher up on the scale, but still distinctly not classy is “what?”
When you didn’t hear something or understand it fully and you say “what?” or its close cousin “whaddaya mean?” you sound ignorant and basic.
Instead, try something like:
“Could you please repeat that?”
You’ll come across much classier.
When you say something is “ghetto,” you sound whatever the opposite of classy is.
For lack of a better word, saying “ghetto” makes you sound ghetto.
The word ghetto comes from early Jew-hating roots and is a sad term with quite a bit of historical baggage.
Its modern context in poor black communities doesn’t help much, despite pop culture using it in a satirical, “fun” way.
“Oh my god, that’s so ghetto.”
Unless you’re using ghetto to describe … actual ghettos or issues relating to ghettos, try your best to avoid it.
Booze is a word that just oozes low-class.
Keep in mind that low class in all these examples does not refer to an economic status.
Some of the lowest-class people I know are enormously rich.
But booze is a good example of where everyone can have the chance to just…use better words.
If you want to refer to alcoholic beverages you have many other options:
Drinks, wine, spirits, beer, beverages, cocktails, refreshments, and so on.
Saying “booze” gives off a distinct whiff of low-class languishment and is best avoided.
If you want to say something is great or genuine, try avoiding using the word “legit.”
This is another of those “youth culture” words that just sounds…really silly.
If you want to say that something is legitimate or noteworthy, say so.
There’s no need to shorten it to “legit,” particularly if you’re over the age of 15.
Next up in common words classy people avoid (that you should avoid, too) we get to “epic.”
We aren’t talking about the tales of Väinämöinen in the Kalevala epic poem by Elias Lönnrot.
No, we are talking about experiences, people, things or items which are amazing or “cool.”
“That dinner was so epic!”
“Oh my god, that movie was epic.”
Unless you’re talking about a period of history or an epic poem like the Kalevala, leave “epic” far away from your pedestrian verbal palette.
If someone is ill, you may certainly mention that they are “sick.”
However any use of the word “sick” to describe something as being remarkable or impressive is strongly discouraged.
You sound like a 12-year-old skateboarder (no offense if you are).
The new pair of shoes you just bought are not “sick.”
Your friend’s new car is not “sick.”
If you’re a very “sick” person I can only hope that you get well soon.
The word dude entered the lexicon like a super strain of herpes a few decades ago.
It’s only grown since then.
Now, saying “dude” can be a lot of fun and if you surf a lot or grew up in certain areas of Australia or California you have an unrestricted right to use “dude” to your heart’s content.
The rest of us need to try to stay away.
Instead of asking “dude, where’s my car?”
Try asking “dude, where’s my classiness?”
10) “Holy sh*t”
Excrement isn’t sacred, at least not as an object of worship.
Saying “holy sh*t” comes across as very basic and unimaginative.
There are so many more interesting things that could be “holy,” such as “holy howitzer” or “holy St. Boniface!”
Now, I’m not encouraging blasphemy or casting shade on the honorable Boniface.
I’m just trying to say that the main problem of “holy sh*t” isn’t that it’s offensive, it’s just that it’s so boring and gauche.
If I said I’m hungry for a snack, I’d be talking about Doritos, or twenty pounds of chicken wings (there’s my classy side again).
But alarmingly, the word “snack” has crept into the lexicon in a sexual meaning.
It means a man who is highly attractive and is a “snack.”
“Holy sh*t the new bachelor is such a snack. Yum, yum!”
If you hear anybody referring to someone as a “snack” please maintain a safe radius and call animal control.
It is possible they are rabid and may attack.
12) “Big yikes”
Next up in common words classy people avoid (that you should avoid, too) is “big yikes.”
If you hear somebody say “big yikes,” please take 15 to 20 years off their mental age and consider that they may be intellectually challenged.
What does it mean?
This term refers to when something is not good, awkward or uncomfortable.
Imagine a guy asks out a girl who doesn’t like him. She tells her friend Ashley (because of course her friend’s name is Ashley.”
What does Ashley say? You guessed it: “Big yikes…”
Extra should only be used when asking for extra croutons, or something classy.
Instead, it’s entered pop culture as a term when something is bizarre or incredible or embarrassing.
“Oh my god, that is so extra.”
No, no it is not.
If you hear this, run.
Lost for words
The above words are best avoided if you want to sound classy.
This is one situation where it’s better to be lost for words.
It’s not just the words themselves which are best used sparingly, but also the midwit mentality behind these words in many cases.
There are obviously times you want to say “f*ck” or “dude,” perhaps even with a hint of irony.
But the point is not to completely engorge yourself in the kind of intellectual peasantry that leads to using such words often.
If that sounds snarky and arrogant, so be it: guilty as charged.
Plus, with pop culture and silly words taking over so much of the public space we could use a few faux British accent snobs around with weird vocabularies and outfits that look like they belong a few centuries ago, don’t you think?