10 Words and Phrases That Make You Sound Unintelligent

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Our choice of words and expressions often determines how others think about us. A rich vocabulary can make you sound smart, but certain words and phrases can have the opposite effect. In the list below, Reddit users warn us about words that make you sound stupid.


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Although Merriam-Webster listed “irregardless” as a real word, albeit non-standard, many Redditors agree that “irregardless” can still make you sound stupid.

I’m a (Any Horoscope Sign)

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 There is nothing wrong with following the Zodiac, the I Ching, or other ancient divination systems. Using “I’m a (sign)” to preface a statement is problematic because others will think of it as your worldview. Unless you are specifically referring to divination and cleromancy topics, it is better to leave the horoscope out.

Flat Earth

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Using this expression to label skeptics dismissively is trite because not all conspiracy theories are the same. For example, people who discuss “chemtrails” do not always intersect with those who claim the Earth is flat. Now, if you believe in a pancake-shaped planet, you will need to explain how non-spherical gravity works. 


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If you use “pacifically” to indicate a definite or specific manner, Redditors agree that it will make you sound stupid because the right word is “specifically.”

Being Gay Is a Lifestyle Choice

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 An inherent aspect of a person’s identity cannot be construed as a simple lifestyle choice. When you are dismissive of sexual orientation, you come across as someone who is intellectually deficient. One Redditor succinctly explained that hearing or reading this expression makes her go “aaaaand bye.”

Someone Said on (Any Social Media)

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 This is the 21st-century version of “I heard it through the grapevine,” and it makes you sound gullible. “A lot of misinformation can be found on social media” is a Redditor’s comment. You can avoid this by qualifying your statements and opinions with research and fact-checking instead of TikTok videos.


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This verb became an adjective through the writings of Marcus Garvey, but it has been appropriated for cruel irony. It is acceptable and correct to use woke in the context of social justice awareness. When you use this word for inflammatory sarcasm, you are essentially describing yourself as a politically misinformed dolt. 

I Seen

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If you are texting and wish to skip a few taps of the touchscreen keyboard, “I saw” is shorter. The proper usage of the present perfect tense would be “I have seen.” When you skip the auxiliary “have,” you are broadcasting an inability to form compound verb tenses. 


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While many people use “slay” to describe something amazing, Redditors agree that it can also make you sound stupid.

I’m Alpha

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This makes you the first letter of the Greek alphabet or a partial pronouncement in the Book of Revelation. Articles and nouns are not words that make you sound stupid; don’t be afraid to use them. “I’m an alpha version tester of the new Reddit user interface.”

This thread inspired this post.

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