10 Misused Words That Make Smart People Look Stupid

Who doesn’t want to sound intelligent when addressing an audience or in a meeting with a client? However, sometimes, we fail to use words accurately, which changes the way people perceive us. In today’s post, we’re going to discuss those commonly misused words that make smart people look foolish.

10 words that make people look stupid1. Irony vs. Coincidence

Irony and coincidence are the two most confusing words that often put even people in trouble. The word Irony refers to a figure of speech in which words are used in the way that their planned meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. Let’s make it clear with an example.


A PETA member wears leather shoes

Since the role of a PETA member is to stop animal suffering, people would assume they would avoid products made of animal skin. So this is an ironic situation if you see a PETA member wearing leather shoes.

Speaking of coincidence, it is when two or more circumstances or events having some connection happen at the same time without any evident reason. For more clarification, see the example below.


By coincidence, every girl in the hotel room was named Emma.

For fun, try to find the situations that Alanis Morissette accidentally calls “ironic” in her hit single Ironic.


2. Bring vs. Take

A lot of English learners confuse these words. One primary reason for this is that both words explain carrying something or someone from one place to another. However, they are not the same. Each word has its own unique use.

The significant difference between these two words is that “bring” explains movement toward something or someone. 


Bring your guitar with you when you come over.

On the contrary, the word “take” suggests movement away from something.


Take your guitar with you when you’re leaving.

3. Accept vs. Except

Although these two words sound identical, they have entirely different meanings. “Accept” means to agree on something or receive something readily. 


I accepted the gift from my mother. 

Give her time to accept reality.

On the other hand, “except” means excluding or with the exception of. 


Everything was in good order except for food items.

4. Affect vs. Effect

Similar to “accept” and “except,” these two words are easy to mix up. What makes them more perplexing is, both terms can be used as either a verb or a noun. Let’s find out how to use them as a verb and a noun.


Affect” means to influence and impact something while “effect” means to accomplish something. Let’s understand the difference between the examples below.

Affect: Inflation can affect anyone.

Effect: These changes will effect from the next month


As a noun, “effect” means to result in an action, while “affect” refers to an emotional state.

Affect: The doctor is responsible for observing the patient’s affect.

Effect: What will be the effect of pollution on our health.


5. Comprise vs. Compose

These are the two other most common incorrectly used words in the English language. The fundamental difference between these two words is, the verb “comprise” means to be consists of or made up of while the verb “compose” looks at things from the reverse direction. Bit confusing, right? Let’s understand it with examples below.


Canada comprises ten provinces.

Ten different provinces compose the nation of Canada.


6. Fewer vs. Less

Most English learners confuse these two words. Let’s clear out this confusion. According to English grammar experts, the word “fewer” is used when discussing countable things while the term “less” is used for singular mass nouns.


Emma consumes less alcohol than she used to.

This recipe has fewer ingredients.

7. Lie vs. Lay

We all know the word “lie,” which means an untruth. However, the word “lie” has another usage that is confusing for most English learners. We’re talking about the phrase “lie,” which means to recline. Let’s clear this doubt. We lie down, but we lay something down. With the word “lie,” you don’t need to use any object while the word lay needs a direct object.


I usually lie down on my couch.

My baby doesn’t like to lay her toys on the floor. 

8. Lose vs. Loose

The word, “lose” is a verb that means to misplace, to fail to win, or to free oneself from someone or something. On the other hand, “loose” is an adjective that refers to objects that are not tight or firmly fixed in the place. 

One of the easiest ways to remember the usage of these words is, if you want to write the word, “lose” that means “fail to win,” then always remember that the word, lose has lost an “O” from the loose. It is as simple as that.


Lose – If I lose this game, I might be out of the tournament. I have decided to eat less so that I can lose some extra pounds.

Loose – I lost so much weight that my pants became loose.

9. Farther vs. Further

Some people interchange these two words. Since they have identical meanings, it is easy to get them mixed up when writing or speaking. Although both further and farther mean to a greater distance, “farther” refers to a greater distance in the physical sense that can actually be measured. On the contrary, “further” is a symbolic distance.

Although mixing them up is not a significant mistake, knowing the difference is important.


We have to drive further.

We have to drive farther than the map indicated.

10 Nauseous vs. Nauseated

Although both words are used to mean feeling unwell, both have different meanings. The word “nauseous” means “causing nausea,” while “nauseated” refers to feeling nausea.


The extreme pain made him nauseous.

If the patient is nauseated, there is a good chance that infection has spread to the small intestine.

Final Words

We all love to use unique words in documents, emails, or meetings. However, if you’re not using them correctly, readers or listeners might create a negative perception about you. In this post, we made you familiar with the top 10 misused words that cause smart people look stupid. We hope next time you will use them correctly.

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