Stop using these 20 phrases to instantly sound smarter

Want to sound smarter?

Cut these ten words and phrases out of your vocabulary and you will.

Stop using these ten phrases to instantly sound smarter. 

1) “Uh…”

Many of us, myself included, use “uh” as a filler in many of our sentences. 

It conveys insecurity and mental confusion. 

If you find that you’re sometimes getting lost while speaking and use “uh” in such cases, then slow down. 

Speak more slowly instead of peppering in “uh” all the time. 

2) “It’s, like, I dunno…”

Next up, you want to stop using “like” as a filler as well. 

The use of “like” is particularly predominant in certain cultures, but it’s spread worldwide among the Anglosphere. 

Example sentence:

“It’s, like, a bar, but, like, it also has a kind of, like, restaurant section, you know?”

“Yeah, like, we were there last week, and, like, I thought it was, like f*ckin’ really cool, like.”

There’s a reason that saying “like” a lot is associated with intellectually stunted California Valley Girl culture. 

Because it sounds really ignorant and vacuous. 

Please stop using like and become more conscious of your use of like. 

3) “Kind of,” “I guess.”

These phrases make you sound hesitant and unsure of yourself. 

If you don’t know whether what you’re saying is accurate, try this instead:

  1. Don’t say it
  2. Say it and be confident

Adding these kinds of qualifiers confuses people and makes them lose confidence in you. 

Using these as responses to what somebody said is passive-aggressive and makes you sound ignorant. 

4) “F*ckin’”

Depending on where you grew up and the social milieu you arose in, you may have heard a lot of the use of the F-word as a filler. 

Think of “uh” but instead of “uh” it’s f*ckin’ this and f*ckin’ that. 

Brings back f*ckin’ memories of middle school…


“Did you see the f*ckin’ game? Holy sh*t, that f*ckin’ hit was so epic, like, I was f*ckin’ so impressed by that f*ckin’ shit.”

“Yeah bro, it’s f*ckin’ crazy how much he’s improved as a player, like his f*ckin’ skills are f*ckin’ tight. So legit.”

Please…enough f*ckin’!

Stop f*ckin’ around and cut it out.

5) “It’s literally…”

Stop saying something is “literally” something. 

If something is true then it’s true. But almost every time people say “literally” they are using it to emphasize or double down on a point they’re making. 

“I literally couldn’t believe my eyes when Evan won the Bachelor, oh my God!”

OK, so…You couldn’t believe your eyes?

Saying “literally” all the time just makes you sound immature and hungry for attention. 

Stop saying it. 

6) “I could care less…”

Saying this makes you sound dumb for a simple reason: it makes no sense. 

People say it to mean they don’t care at all about something. 

Then why would you say “I could care less?”

Instead, try saying “I couldn’t care less” or, even better, go the direct route and say “I honestly don’t really care.”

There, fixed it for you. 

7) “With all due respect.”

Who is due respect, and why? How much does this “all due respect” include? 

But seriously…

People say this when they mean someone is wrong or mistaken.

Why say it as a precursor? It’s passive aggressive.

If somebody is wrong or you think they are, point it out. You don’t need to give them fake respect first. 

8) “Let’s circle back to that.”

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki became famous for constantly saying she would “circle back” to a question later or at another time after doing more research. 

It made her sound ignorant and evasive of responsibility. 

It also has a kind of pseudo-patrician fakeness to it that sounds like the admissions board at Harvard is dismissing you in a polite way. 

Just avoid “circling back” to anything if you can.

9) “I’m going to knock out some work.”

Saying you’re going to “knock out” a job or a task makes you sound really cringe. 

I don’t know how else to explain it. 

Your work is not an aggressive bear that’s chasing you in the forest or a piece of drywall you’re demolishing while renovating your home. 

You don’t “knock out” work. 

10) “Let’s unpack this a bit more.”

I had various professors in university who loved to say this.

“Let’s unpack the cultural context of Schopenhauer’s thought for a moment, shall we?”

Uh, shall we…not? 

I cringed inwardly every time they talked about “unpacking” things.

Can we please…stop “unpacking” everything?

I wasn’t aware anything was packed, and I also wasn’t aware I was attending a parody of academia. 

If you talk about “unpacking” anything but suitcases, you’re going to sound pretentious and silly. 

11) “I’m not feelin’ it.”

Saying that you’re “feelin’ it” has become shorthand for saying you like something or it resonates with you. 

Saying you’re “not feelin’ it” signifies the opposite. 

In real life it’s generally used to reject or dismiss something without actually explaining why. 


Stop saying you’re not feeling it. If you’re rejecting a person, a business proposition or saying you don’t like music your friend showed you speak your mind directly instead of using wriggly phrases like “not feelin’ it.”

12) “Know what I mean?”

Asking “know what I mean?” after you say something shows a lot of insecurity

If somebody doesn’t know what you mean, they can ask. 

Stop asking for validation and confirmation all the time. 

13) “Patience is a virtue.”

Who says?

Saying these kinds of cross-stitch colloquialisms makes you sound ignorant and judgmental. 

Was patience a virtue while the world waited to figure out what to do about the Rwandan Genocide?

Saying this kind of aphorism just makes you sound trite and ignorant in most cases. 

14) “Thank God it’s Friday.”

People who say this generally sound very basic. 

The reason is obvious:

  1. You’re indicating you are in the Monday to Friday rat race and that the weekend is just a time to “relax” for you (boring).
  2. You’re implying that your week has more or less been a burden on you and that you are willing to put up with five days of abuse in return for two days of tranquility (loser). 

Don’t TGIF post. It’s so lame. 

15) “I’m a lover not a fighter.”

If you’re a lover not a fighter, how nice for you. 

I wouldn’t want you by my side when an economic collapse happens, but you may be a very pleasant and helpful individual who could help stock our rations while me and my fellow fighters hold off brigands outside from raiding our farm. 

But the point is, if you’re a lover not a fighter, maybe just do us a favor and don’t say it. 

Because it sounds really self-promotional and cringe. 

Signed, everyone else. 

16) “Time heals all wounds.”

Firstly, no it doesn’t. Obviously. 

Second: if you’re saying this it’s likely being said to someone who’s going through a big tragedy or crisis. 

Don’t say this kind of thing. It’s just rude, and stupid. 

17) “Whatever.”

If you want to say “f*ck you” to someone, then have the courage to say it!

Whatever is an awful thing to say to someone and it has so many nasty, passive-aggressive connotations. 

If you use it in sentences it’s even worse, and saps all your power. 

“Well I wanted to go for dinner, or whatever. I dunno, whatever you guys think. It’s whatever.”

No, no, no.

18) “That’s so legit.”

What are you a 19-year-old frat bro? No offense if you are, all are welcome. 

But please try to avoid saying this is you’re out of high school. 

It’s just the kind of phrase that sounds totally juvenile and silly. 

If you stop saying it you’ll sound smarter and more mature

19) “It is what it is.”

This defines defeatism. 

If you say “it is what it is” a lot, you may be aiming to sound like Confucious or a wise Zen master. 

But trust me, you just sound apathetic and kind of boring.

20) “Just…no.”

Don’t say “just…no.”

It’s one of those weird pop culture phrases that a lot of people seem to say nowadays, and every time they do I cringe. 

So don’t say it. 

You sound passive-aggressive and weird. 

So in other words, it’s a just…no from me, on saying “just…no.”

Less is more

If you want to sound smart, remember the key rule: less is more. 

Talking too much can be a sign of insecurity, egotism or just plain ignorance (or all three). 

There’s no reason to talk much more than is necessary, and the phrases above are great ones to cut out of your repertoire altogether. 

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