10 Words You Might Be Using Incorrectly

You’ve come this far in life, and you think you’ve got it all pretty much under control. Words are hard, but you made it into college and you manage to sound smart in most of your essays and conversations. Take a look at this list and see if you’re using these tricky words correctly!

1. Peruse
What you think it means: Read through quickly; glance over
What it actually means: Read (something), typically in a thorough or careful way
“Students, please peruse the articles before the exam, rather than skimming the abstract.”

2. Fortuitous
What you think it means:  Happening by a lucky chance*
What it actually means: Happening by accident or chance rather than design
“Unfortunately, I had a fortuitous encounter at Know Where Coffee with the professor who flunked me last year.”

3. Simplistic
What you think it means: Pleasingly simple (as a description for a rustic cafe)
What it actually means: Treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are; naive or overly simple
“Her simplistic answer to the extra-credit question suggests she doesn’t know the material at all. That’s probably why she’s retaking the class next semester.”

4. Bemused
What you think it means: To be amused
What it actually means: Puzzled, confused or bewildered
“He had a bemused expression while watching her swipe right repeatedly on Tinder because she has a boyfriend.”

5. Nauseous
What you think it means: To feel dizzy, inclined to vomit
What it actually means: Causing nausea; offensive to the taste or smell
“The putrid odor floating from the men’s locker room was making her nauseous, so she announced, ‘I’m nauseated.’”

6. Disinterested
What you think it means: Uninterested
What it actually means: Having or feeling no interest in something (in a neutral form)
“We need a disinterested, third-party intervener to solve our dispute — your mom doesn’t count.”

7. Uncanny
What you think it means: A coincidence
What it actually means: Strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way
“I had an uncanny feeling that I was being watched by Nicholas Cage during all my finals.”

8. Travesty
What you think it means: A tragedy or unfortunate event
What it actually means: A false, absurd or distorted representation of something
“That political cartoon about Trump being America’s Sweetheart was a travesty.”

9. “I could care less” (I know this isn’t a word, but this one really bugs me)
How it’s actually said: I couldn’t care less
What it actually means: You care so little (you care zero amounts) that it’s physically impossible in the natural world to care less than you already do. By saying you could care less you’re saying that you care a small bit, and thus it is possible to care less.
“After her BFF Jill hooked up with her boyfriend, she couldn’t care less if Jill failed Orgo.”

And last, but certainly not least...

10. Literally
What you think it means: Figuratively; Used for emphasis or to express strong feeling while not being literally true
What it actually means: A sense that is free from exaggeration or distortion
“I took it literally when she told me to turn my frown upside down, and now I’m in the hospital.”  

Hopefully this helps with your daily interactions. If you already use all these words correctly, you’re probably a genius. Bonus points for using all these words in one day! All the true definitions were taken from the online Oxford Dictionary.

*Due to the changing nature of language, sometimes widespread incorrect usages of the words are accepted as informal dictionary entries. So keep using words incorrectly and eventually the world will catch up with you. #trendsetter

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