21 synonyms that will make you sound smarter

Jessica Ruscello/UnsplashExpand your vocabulary.
  • Instead of saying that someone is “picky” or “demanding,” call them “fastidious.”
  • If someone is always confident, they possess lots of aplomb.
  • “Axiomatic” is a fancy way of saying “obvious.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.


The words we use can have a huge impact on our lives. Our word choices can undermine our success or indicate higher levels of stress, but they can also help us reach our goals and impress people like potential employers.

It may have been a while since you’ve practiced SAT words, but expanding your vocabulary opens up new possibilities for expressing yourself at any stage of life.

Don’t be pusillanimous – use one of these 21 words next time you want to sound smart. The definitions and synonyms come from Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com, respectively.


Solipsistic

GettySelf-absorbed.

Definition: extremely preoccupied with and indulgent of one’s feelings, desires, etc.

Sounds smarter than: self-absorbed, narcissistic


Obfuscate

Jesus Moron/ReutersTo confuse.

Definition: to make obscure or unclear

Sounds smarter than: confuse, complicate


Perfunctory

BaLL LunLa / ShutterstockLazy.

Definition: lacking interest, care, or enthusiasm

Sounds smarter than: lazy, careless


Equanimity

ShutterstockChill.

Definition: mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain

Sounds smarter than: chill, calm


Fastidious

Steve Liss / Contributor for Getty ImagesDemanding.

Definition: excessively particular, critical, or demanding; hard to please

Sounds smarter than: picky, demanding


Parsimonious

Definition: unwilling to spend money or use resources

Sounds smarter than: cheap, stingy


Aplomb

ShutterstockConfidence.

Definition: imperturbable self-possession, poise, or assurance

Sounds smarter than: confidence, tact


Axiomatic

REUTERS/Mark BlinchObvious.

Definition: self-evident, requiring no proof

Sounds smarter than: obvious


Ennui

ShutterstockBoredom.

Definition: a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest

Sounds smarter than: boredom


Lurid

E!Shocking.

Definition: glaringly vivid or sensational

Sounds smarter than: shocking


Malaise

Definition: a vague or unfocused feeling of mental uneasiness, lethargy, or discomfort

Sounds smarter than: depression, despair


Diatribe

wavebreakmedia/ShutterstockAttack.

Definition: a bitter, sharply abusive denunciation or criticism

Sounds smarter than: attack


Pusillanimous

ShutterstockTimid.

Definition: lacking courage or resolution

Sounds smarter than: cowardly, timid


Bloviate

ShutterstockLecture.

Definition: to speak pompously

Sounds smarter than: brag, lecture


Rococo

Jo Hale/Getty ImagesFlamboyant.

Definition: ornate or florid in speech, literary style, etc.

Sounds smarter than: flamboyant


Pervicacious

Tetra Images/Getty ImagesStubborn.

Definition: extremely willful; obstinate

Sounds smarter than: stubborn


Cloying

Definition: causing or tending to cause disgust or aversion through excess

Sounds smarter than: sappy, cheesy


Sycophant

Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty ImagesBrownnoser.

Definition: a self-seeking, servile flatterer

Sounds smarter than: suck-up, brownnoser


Malinger

ShutterstockTaking a ‘sick day.’

Definition: to pretend illness, especially in order to shirk one’s duty, avoid work, etc.

Sounds smarter than: taking a “sick day”


Maudlin

ShutterstockWeepy.

Definition: tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental

Sounds smarter than: weepy


Neophyte

Rob Carr/Getty ImagesMarquis Jackson was all smiles in the post-game handshake line.

Definition: beginner or novice

Sounds smarter than: newbie, amature

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.