Design

What’s Your Go-To Impressive Word?

hitchcock-lion

Back in college, I was in an English class minding my own business, when suddenly a dark-haired cutie in the third row busted out the word “parsimonious.” What is it about a nicely chosen polysyllabic word that is so attractive? (This was my reaction.)

But it doesn’t always work in your favor: After breaking up with an old boyfriend, I ran into him with another girl. As we awkwardly talked at the cafe, his date dropped the word “innocuous” into casual conversation, and I was so annoyed that she was both beautiful and smart (you know, your basic nightmare), I still remember it a decade later.

What more interesting words do you use? I like “peripatetic” and “phlegmatic,” while Caroline used “intractable” in a meeting yesterday.

Here are a few offbeat words: Groak means staring silently at someone while they eat, perhaps in the hope that they will give you some food. Abibliophobia is the fear of running out of reading material. Petrichor denotes the pleasant smell after rain. Sonder is the realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

And if you’re in the mood, here’s a fun quiz: How big is your vocabulary? Leave your score below!

new-yorker-cartoon-bank-english-major-grammar-joke

P.S. The hardest tongue twister and annoying words.

  1. My vocabulary is at a 8th grade level. It’s probably because I come from an asian family.

  2. Melody says...

    20,500!
    I think it’s time I start reading again… thank you for sharing this!

  3. Jessica says...

    I only got 25,900. I rarely look up words but now with reading on my iPad this is getting a lot easier so hopefully I’ll know more exact definitions rather than getting by on context clues or skipping over it.

  4. I love this. One of my faves is petrichor: a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather. I get to use it often in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s a word that feels like home.

    -Lynn
    http://www.thisrainylife.com/

  5. catherine says...

    my word is “plethoric”, I don’t know why.
    my score is 32,000 words, English is my second language!

  6. Andrea says...

    My new boss keeps asking me to write a “chapeau” and I am still not sure what she’s talking about!

    My word is “cacophony”

  7. I love the word “avuncular” but have never gotten the chance to use it! I heard someone use it in a speech recently, and it thrilled me. I think that was the first time I had heard it spoken out loud.

  8. ariana says...

    On a daily basis – algorithm, coefficient, geo-processing, spatial.
    [I’m a geographer]

  9. Donna Benson says...

    I love using the word ubiquitous or moot or impetus but never at the same time :)

  10. carmen says...

    37,100! Not too shabby with all my edumacation. I just used indomitable with my dad. I had just visited my grandmother in a home and was shocked to see her so frail and wan (how’s that for an SAT word). It was tough to see her like that because all my life she had just been indomitable.

  11. Annabelle says...

    38,600 – And my go to word is “salient” because it’s useful in so many situations (it means “most important”) but it doesn’t come across as too esoteric and pretentious. For example, “esoteric” is definitely a word I use sparingly depending on the audience for that very reason. Does anyone else skew their vocabulary depending on the listener?

  12. Gabriele says...

    32,000. For a non-native speaker. Probably helps that I became an English teacher and that I love to read. Nice pedagogical tool.

  13. Teressimo says...

    29,500!!!!! My reading pays off! No higher education, but read like crazy. My mother who has an amazing vocabulary, got 32,600, i was expecting her to get more.

    I need to work on my grammar though.

  14. Susie D says...

    I got 22,300 words, as a non-native english speaker. There were so many words in that test that I didn’t know. I definitely need to be better at looking up new words in the future :)

  15. Gina says...

    23,200 – There were a couple of words that I didn’t select as I was unsure that I knew the correct meaning. This has definitely enlightened me in my knowledge of words. I thought I knew more, guess I need to start reading again!

  16. 33,800! Yay for fiction reading.

    My favorite word is ‘facetious’. Not only is it impressive in conversation, but it also has every vowel in alphabetical order!

  17. LaurenB says...

    23,600 – I’m a bit disappointed.

    my favorite is “petulant”

  18. Kelly says...

    37,700!

  19. My favorite word to use is onomatopoetic (or onomatopoetically). It’s like using “onomatopoeia” but conjugated into an adjective or adverb, which is much more impressive! My score was 34,500 words.

  20. Sarah says...

    22,500. I thought I would do a lot better than that! And I love to read. Wow.

  21. Rachel says...

    My mother uses the word “obsequious” all the time and it drives me nuts. Something about how she throws it in whenever she can and it seems so out of place with her regular lexicon… ugh. But I love her anyway! :-)

  22. My friend used “Anodyne” to describe my perfume the other day and my husband and I scurried to look it up. That was pretty badass

  23. Teej says...

    This was a fun post!

    I love words, and something that I learned recently that surprised me: the word victuals (which I have seen written and assumed was pronounced like…vik-chew-als…or something) and the word vittles (which I had heard spoken) are the same word!!! Victuals is pronounced vittles! wha? Good to know, since I like victuals, the more the better. :)

  24. I once used the word “anthropomorphic” in reference to Winnie the Pooh and my wife accused me of having just learned the word “in a word-of-the-day email or something.” In reality, I learned the word while studying poetry in the 10th grade and I’ve always remembered it, but she still called people to see if they knew the word off the top of their head (no one did).

  25. Karen says...

    I have a colleague who uses “oeuvre” on a regular basis.

    (and another who says SUPPOSABLY all the time!)

    drives. me. insane.

  26. Aidel.K says...

    I scored 30,200, and my smart husband scored 39,900. Both of us were surprised how many words we didn’t know! (They should include the definitions after.)

  27. I have several but one of my favorites is “skosh”.

  28. Not a go-to word, but in college I had go-to phrases I constantly used in papers. They were “squalid plight of…” and “childlike sophistication,” which both come in handy, especially when you have a lot of art history courses. “Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ displayed the squalid plight of the Basque people,” “Kandinsky used a childlike sophistication,” “At times, Jackson Pollock’s work shows a childlike sophistication,” – the list goes on!

  29. It’s a small word, but I find myself saying “motif” to mean an established pattern or meme.

  30. Haha this is such a timely post. I’ve really been trying to widen my vocabulary lately and my mum and I have been joking about it.

    Erin | http://beingerin.com

  31. Lucia says...

    This post reminds me of a project my husband started recently on IG–he picks and illustrates words he finds interesting. Kind of a fun way to learn new words especially if you’re a visual learner!

    Check it out! https://instagram.com/dusty_words

  32. Katie says...

    Not to be macabre, but I like the word macabre. I think I like it because my mom used it in a sentence once, then taught me how to spell it. I remember it so vividly, and now it’s one of “those words” I can casually and confidently throw into a sentence.

  33. Bronwyn says...

    LOVE peripatetic; also a big fan of “marmoreal”
    Reading Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast” as a teenager gave me a HUGE appreciation for weird big words

  34. I scored 35,300 so I’m pleased my university education and book obsession has paid off! My favourite is “omnipotent” 😄

  35. Tania says...

    31,200! But I’m Greek :)

  36. 23,100 Words (!) English is not my first language and I never really lived in the English speaking world. I like “flabbergasted” probably not a big word for native speakers… To me it seems weird and outdated in a funny way and to non native speakers it almost always is impressive. ;-)

  37. Jacqui says...

    32,500 and Discombobulate is my favourite word. I enjoy that people are discombobulated when I use it!

  38. Like many physicists, my word is “canonical”. Physics has “canonical form”, “(grand) canonical ensemble”, “canonical coordinates”, “canonical variables”, “canonical stress-energy tensor”, “canonical homomorphism” and many, many others.

  39. Chelsea says...

    22,800. And I’m an attorney. And I’ve always prided myself on my vocabulary. Yikes! Reality check!
    I’m gonna go read all of the fictional books now, thankskbye (that’s a word).

  40. My favourite word has always been ‘equilibrium’. Might be because I’m a bit of an engineering nerd… It’s simple, but I just love the way it sounds.

  41. Jen says...

    31,500 – not bad. My close friends laugh at my word fads, where I’ll just fall in love with a word and use it a lot of for a few months before shifting my love for a new one! Dearth and inveigle have both definitely had a run at some point.

  42. Amanda says...

    27,000 ish. After reading as much as I do. It seems like I should know more /:

  43. Jodi says...

    This article reminded me so much of that scene in the movie Clueless, where Tai learns the word “sporadically” and Cher encourages her to use it in a sentence. Haha!

    • Ohhh yes! Ha ha – I love that scene!

  44. Brittany says...

    I got a kick out of this post! I think I use big words in writing more than in conversation but one that I tend to slip in quite often is “facetious.”

  45. Gleemonex says...

    40,600 – about what I expected, as a lifelong bookworm with an MA in English. You ask me a math question, though … hooo boy …

  46. I like “ostensibly.” Easy to use!

  47. Nora says...

    Like Caroline, I love “intractable” as well as its almost-synonym “intransigent” and its opposite, “tractable.” All three come in very handy when discussing human behavior.

    Another word I use a lot is effusive.

  48. Haley says...

    My mother always whips out big words when we are fighting. That’s another example of impressive words turning into a nightmare. It’s just plain obnoxious. Please don’t do this to your children, ladies! Lol.

  49. Kirsten says...

    30,600. Definitely did not have any idea what some of those words were…

    But pleased to know that my disgusting amount of higher education put me as squarely average :)

    • Ha! I’m with you!

  50. 23,200. I recognized a bunch that I ultimately had to leave blank becasue, while I’ve heard or read the words, I don’t actually know what they mean. I enjoy using the word “superfluous” and my husband has told me he was impressed when I had used the words “coiffed” and “felled” correctly (not very tricky words, I know). But I love that he noticed. ;)

  51. Jaclyn says...

    32,400! I also recently took an IQ test and received the exact same score as fictional Dr. Frasier Crane, who is one of my favorite all time characters on television. Killin’ it!!!!😍😍😍😍😍

  52. Natasha Drayson says...

    Are there any word-a-day emails you’d recommend? It was one of my new year’s resolutions to add to my vocabulary, but the ones I found are terrible.

    • The one sent through Miriam-Webster is a bit hit-or-miss, but the email usually includes other interesting tidbits. Even if I already know the word, I usually get some entertainment out of reading the email!

  53. 29K and some change. Hmph.

  54. J.D says...

    I impressed my roommate once by using “ephemeral” to describe my tattoo. Also, fun fact, pretty close to “peripatetic” is the French word “péripatéticienne , which is another name for a prostitute! Ha!

  55. Michelle says...

    34900. I love the word ‘ incandescent’ .

  56. 13,500 doesn’t seem that much but as a non-native speaker it is more than average.
    I feel like I should take classes to boost my vocabulary or read more English books. Probably an early New Year’s resolution – thanks ;)

  57. My favorite is perspicacious! Very helpful in law school.

  58. Daniela says...

    18,900.. I was pretty convinced I knew more words than that as I read a lot and look up all the words I do not know! To be fair, English is not my native language though I am fluent in it.

  59. Amy says...

    26,700-I felt incredibly uneducated not checking so many boxes! I recently took a job where I’m constantly being told “write it at a 3rd grade level” and now I’m afraid it’s influencing all my thinking and vocabulary outside of work, too!

  60. meganleiann says...

    It’s funny you mentioned it. My kids are obsessed with this song: http://youtu.be/hNoXsV2X7bs
    My husband and I have code named it “The Defenestration Song.”

    • This made my day! I have had a nerdy love affair with the word “defenestration” since I was a kid. I thought it was the most ridiculous I’d ever heard and it still makes me giggle to this day.

      (Defenestration means the action of throwing someone or something out of a window.)

    • Wow this was my fun/fave word when I was on junior high. It stuck with me, when a teacher told me to be quite in the class room, or otherwise he would make me by defenestration lol!
      [in greek the verb is ”εκπαραθυρώνω” (ekparathirono)= to throw someone/something out of a window].

  61. Sadie says...

    27,900. I should know more– I never bother to look up definitions!

    My favorite $10 word is “simulacrum.”

  62. Barb says...

    31, 200

  63. Emily says...

    I like using whatever word expresses my intended meaning, whether the word has one syllable or many.

  64. Katie says...

    Love this! I’d love to have the definitions for the amazing words posted by readers- you’ve all provided so many delightful syllables; now let’s add the meanings so we can use them correctly!

  65. Laura says...

    I got a 37,500. I’ve always loved the word defenestrate–I love when a single word can describe something that would otherwise take 5 or more words. When I was a freshman in high school, we did a whole unit on Greek and Latin root words, the premise being that it would help us to figure out the meanings of many of the words in the English language–it totally worked, and I’m surprised how much has stuck with me! The interesting thing about that test is how many of the words weren’t even English–many were French. One of my pet peeves is people misusing French words–I hate when people use coup de grace to describe something as the cherry on top, for example, when it really means death blow.

  66. Barbara says...

    35,100

    Taking latin in high school helped a lot. I also read all the time.

  67. I think I need a word for sad/heartbroken/devastated/outraged…when I saw the lion photo at the top my thoughts went to poor Cecil the lion.

  68. ashley says...

    cathartic!
    and i can’t wait to read everyone else’s and add a few words to my vocab!

  69. I was once instantly attracted to a guy (long before I met my now-husband!) for using the word “commensurate” in a meeting at work. I like the words “egregious” and “halcyon.” :)

  70. Joanna says...

    Proud to see a plethora of Greek words on the list! But, Joanna, in what context do you use ‘peripatetic’? In Greek it’s not commonly used outside the Aristotle context.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      very very rarely! we were talking about a friend recently who moves all the time so i busted it out. i’m 99% sure it was correct :)

  71. I love the word supercalifragilisticexpiaalidocious which my dad always used when he described the fun we were about to have as we drove to Cape Cod for a family vacation! Then, he would burst into song from the Disney movie, Mary Poppins! He was and still is the perfect “fun-loving” dad!!! xo

    Kisses,

    (=’.’=)
    -Lauren
    adorn la femme

  72. Ellen says...

    I got just under 28000, and considering I’m 26 and don’t generally read nonfiction, I feel like that’s respectable. I find myself sometimes blurting out words that are a little high brow for the conversation and then getting concerned that I used it incorrectly. It’s funny how words can be in your vocabulary without them necessarily being *consciously* known.

    • Ellen says...

      Err, I don’t read fiction. Only read non-fiction. :)

    • weirdly, the definition of this is Malapropism which is also one of the words in the test! ha

  73. Erin says...

    30,400–I’m currently writing my dissertation and can tell when I have written pieces of it by the amount of times a certain word is used. Right now I’m stuck on concomitant and therefore it is everywhere!

  74. Divy says...

    Well, I’ve been studying for the GRE but I love the words hector (to bully), ebullient (cheerful), quotidian (daily), quixotic (unrealistic).

  75. Ameliorate!

    It means “to make better” but doesn’t make you sound like a 7 year old. (‘I made this part look better’ vs ‘I ameliorated this part.’) I like that it sounds like “améliorer” in French and “melhorar” in Portuguese, which mean the same things, and it’s so practical.

  76. Great post, Jo! Of course I had to interrupt my much-deserved lunchtime rest to take the test (LOL!)…..39,900, not too shabby! And now I’m itching to find out the meaning of some of the words that I didn’t know….some of them sounded decidedly Shakespearean to me…..(and I can’t imagine ever dropping some of them in to conversation)…..favourite ‘posh’ words? Oh my, so so many! Effervescent (just love how it sounds, and I *love* the idea of someone being ‘effervescent’….), perhaps? [Love the lady’s comment about about calling kitchen utensils ‘persnickety’ and ‘rapscallion’ and her children repeating the words back to her…..maybe that’s what I need to do with my 9-year old, to increase his vocabulary?!]….GREAT post…will revisit the comments as I’m a word-lover and it’s just the type of dorky thing I love to read!!!

  77. Caroline says...

    Some of my go-to words are “lament”, “cloying”, “flagrant”, and “vitriolic”. And “hyperbolic”. Now that I’m looking at my go-to words all in one place, I’m beginning to think I might have a penchant for hyperbole. Eek.

  78. Caroline says...

    35,000. Not bad for a former ESL kid.

  79. bisbee says...

    28,200. Certainly not great. Some of those words were really something – I recognized some, but tried to be very honest and not check those I recognized but had no clue about their meaning!

  80. i once used the word ‘banal’ casually in conversation (silently hoping that i was using & saying it correctly, and i was complimented on it.

    my husband says i have a reader’s vocabulary, meaning i am familiar with words but i am sometimes unsure of how they are pronounced so i end up saying the word like how a child would sound out a word they’re not familiar with, and most of the time i’m incorrect. he gently corrects me and i love it, because it doesn’t turn me off of trying to use new words and it encourages me more to expand my vocab.

    for awhile my fave word was ‘cantankerous’ but i think ‘guffaw’ is my most fave.

  81. Caitlyn says...

    I love to use hegemony!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i used to pronounce hegemony incorrectly and only realized after like a year (not that i said it all the time, but still). another word i mispronounced: chasm. i still have to think twice before saying it.

  82. Josie says...

    Iatrogenic. Having the opposite of the intended effect!

  83. Karen says...

    I got a healthy, respectable 27,000. But remember, ladies, it’s not the size…it’s how you use it. Puckish!

  84. Alex says...

    Superfluous! Def: unnecessary, especially through being more than enough.

  85. Jess. says...

    My husband is not a native English speaker, and, like Lizzie seeing Mr. Darcy’s “beautiful grounds at Pemberley,” I believe I can timestamp being in love with him (my husband) from the very first time he used the word “reciprocity.” Dreamy vocab . . .

    Alas, only 29,300

    • Roxana says...

      Since you referred to Mr. Darcy, I have to add that I was able to confidently click “impolitic,” because Lizzie calls Darcy impolitic when they are at Rosings Park.

      I like the word “reciprocity,” too.

      I only got 28,000, which is sad considering I doubled majored in English Lit and Philosophy. I’m blaming it on my mommy brain.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      love you guys!! #brainy

    • Teej says...

      And I knew the word “valetudinarian” thanks to Jane Austen’s “Emma”! Good old Mr. Woodhouse, one of my favorite characters ever. :)

  86. Somebody recently told me I use “orthogonal” a lot. As in, “Your point about girls not interested in science is orthonal to the conversation about sexism in tech.” Oof. Didn’t realize I sounded so condescending! :(

  87. Gabriella says...

    I like “esoteric,” “disingenuous,” “facetious”….lots of adjectives. :-) “Innocuous” comes in handy, too.

  88. 32,500 not too bad. I read a lot but knowing the meanings and pronouncing them correctly are two different challenges for me! Sometimes I get a little tongue tied so it cancels out any good impressions I might have made! Lol

  89. Marianne says...

    Completely off-topic: Did you ever post Anton’s birth story? I came to think of it when I read about Anton’s birthday. I love reading birth stories, you see :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, i haven’t yet posted his birth story. it was kind of a strange experience and i’m debating whether it would be a good story to share!

  90. Astrid says...

    I was extremely happy to get 22,100 since English is not my first language! (I’m Norwegian) I work as an English teacher though, which probably explains it. Juxtaposition is my favorite word!

  91. 25,900 I feel illiterate right now. Personally I don’t really like when people use superfluous vocabularies in their quotidian vernacular (see what I did there?) But seriously, I have one coworker who shows off her vocab and it usually just ends with us saying what? Using big words is fine, just know your audience. Nothing wrong with keeping it simple. I think I mainly keep it simple except maybe some science jargon here and there.

  92. Cristina says...

    For those that think that they should’ve gotten a higher score you should realize that the results are not indicative of the entire U.S population, only those that have taken the test. See below from their FAQ page:

    “You’re probably right. The percentiles listed so far are of the people who have taken the quiz, not of the population as a whole. And their average self-reported verbal SAT score, so far, is around 700 (out of a perfect 800 score). Compare that to the average US population score of around 500, and it’s clear that our test-takers are far more literate than average.

    As the number of participations increases, there should be more data to separate out percentiles based on different self-reported SAT scores, for example, and we’ll be able to use this to generate comparison scores that are more representative of the population as a whole.”

  93. Taylor says...

    29,000…average but interesting! Total brag moment: I got an 800 on the verbal section of my PSATs and a 790 on the real deal. I was so proud of my nerdy self haha. Crowning moment of my entire high school achievement :). Of course no one but my parents and my poet/English teacher grandmother cared, but it really made doing nothing but editing my high school newspaper for four years feel worthwhile.

    The question about reading fiction is interesting; I only read nonfiction. I’d be interested to see how that is correlated to vocabulary size!

    Loved this post, Joanna! Have you ever listened to NPR’s A Way With Words? It’s delightfully word nerdy.

  94. Marie says...

    Abscond is my favorite infrequently used word.

  95. Emma says...

    I love, love, love words. One of my favourites right now that I have yet to work into conversation is “redolent” — meaning something that’s pleasantly and strongly scented (“The air was redolent with spices.”)

    My favourite “casually-drop-into-conversations-to-sound-smart” words are “ebullient” (meaning joyful, bubbly, vivacious) and “erudite” (knowledgeable, wise).

    Good words are like little jewels that you stumble upon in everyday life!

  96. Elise says...

    I was an English major as well, and once had a professor use the word pedagogical TWICE in one fifty minute lecture on the first day of class. I guess it was fitting because, you know, it was an academic/educational setting, but I still remember being so annoyed by him at the time, haha.

  97. I got 10,400 :( but English is not my mother tongue. This shows me that I have to keep on studying.

  98. Beth says...

    36,500. I told my husband last night that he should forebear instead of complaining about something. He told me to stop with the fancy talk.

    • Very funny

  99. Laura C says...

    Ahahahah love all comments!! :D
    xxx

  100. Tristen says...

    Encomiastic and sententious #ftw!

  101. Briana says...

    My go-to’s are alacrity, acrimonious, and prosaic.

    I got 28,000 words and while that is within the average, I was a bit disappointed. I wanted to be on the higher end, but I suppose I just need to buckle down and read more! (I had some male officemates take it as well and the 25 year old got 20,000 while the 56 year old got 33,100.)

  102. Anne says...

    I like ‘autumnal’ – just the sound of the word

    The most important thing about big words is that you absolutely MUST use them correctly! Nothing impresses me less than someone who drops a big word in the wrong context. And less is more – an essay dripping with big words is horrible to read, it actually makes the author send LESS smart (in my opinion).

  103. May says...

    Oh dear. I think its less than last year, 28,200.
    Its not a totally accurate test because if it include the Fword variations one knows, then the totals will be much higher. :)

  104. Cynthia says...

    I told my four year old granddaughter that the garlic press was persnickety and that her two year old brother was a rapscallion. Now I love hearing those same words come out of her little mouth in very correct circumstances.

    • Kate P. says...

      When our daughter was about three she would lie in the tub with her hair swirling around her head and her eyes closed and we told her how peaceful she looked. She got upset, however, when she realized that she couldn’t pronounce “peaceful” properly. It always came out “peacetful”, which greatly upset her, so she asked for another word and I came up with halcyon. Oh, that sweet little girl saying, “Mama, I’m halcyon,” with a little sigh was just a treasure.

  105. Meg says...

    I don’t have anything substantive to add but I just wanted to say, this was a great post! This is why I love your blog- you always have creative ideas for blog posts and every time I click over here I read something interesting.

  106. Emily says...

    In college, my best friend and I had two favorite pretentious words to nonsensically drop into random conversation: panopticon and kafkaesque; I suppose to mock the depressing herds of Ivy League English Lit grad students.

  107. Colleen says...

    This is fun! 30,500. I felt like a dolt toward the end of the list.

  108. Allison says...

    Schadenfreude–delight in the misfortune of others. So fun to say and I love that the whole concept can be summed up with one word.

  109. Jenn I says...

    My mother loved the word “behoove”. She would use it when I was going to be in trouble – “It would behoove you, Jennifer, to go and finish your homework now.” Also veritable, cornucopia, and plethora. These words aren’t my favorite (I enjoy “copacetic” and “detritus”) but I always smile when I hear or read them.

  110. I’m a total word nerd, so I’m pretty disappointed that I scored 28,700! But I’m 32 and I scored better than other people my age…that should count for something I guess. Sesquipedalianism is one of my greatest guilty indulgences. I use it to sound intelligent, which is necessary because of the nature of my job. People assume I’m less educated than I am, and my fragile ego can barely take it. It works in a professional setting (I think), but I’m sure I sound like a pompous ass most of the time.

  111. Teree says...

    My favorite fancy word is ‘bucolic’. I did the quiz and got 29,700. I think I need to read more!

  112. I got 24,700, which seems about right! I grew up in a small town where incorrect words/pronunciations are EVERYWHERE and honestly didn’t learn that so many things I said were incorrect or I was using them wrong until college! Which is where I also consciously got rid of my central NY accent ;) So I think for 18 years of bad English/grammar, I’m doing really well!

  113. Anna says...

    Petrichor is one of my favourite words ever, some others are surreptitious, eloquent etc. I always try to sneak them in conversations. And hypnopompic always makes me chuckle. xo

  114. Sarah says...

    Amalgamation will always and forever be my word.

  115. Jessica says...

    I got 31,700. Not too shabby!

  116. Isabella says...

    38,200, and a former English major. :) “Sonder” is great — and it’s amazing how often I *forget* to do it!

  117. Penultimate!

    • Kate P. says...

      I had a feeling someone else would have already posted it! My son who’s heading into eighth grade has enjoyed throwing it into an essay or two as well.

  118. posts like this are why i love this blog. “gamut” is one of my favorite odd words (it means a complete range of things)

    • Anna says...

      This reminds me of dingsbums in german which translates to whatnot, I guess. Odd words are like inside jokes, always making me smile. xo

  119. Samantha says...

    22,400. going back to take it again.

  120. Kelly says...

    It’s not a vocabulary word per se, but I learned it from this site (http://cupofjo.com/2014/10/12-words-even-smart-people-get-wrong/)! I feel very smart when I use farther vs. further correctly. Despite all of his big, fancy words, my historical linguist boyfriend still gets them mixed up and often uses further when referencing distance!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes totally!!!

  121. Audrey says...

    30,800

  122. Love it! Parsimonious is a great word! Just whatever you do, make sure you know what your big words mean. Don’t fall into the “travesty” trend–it isn’t interchangeable with “tragedy.” There’s nothing worse than tossing out a big word and learning later you used it erroneously–eek! :-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh wow didn’t know that!

      trav·es·ty
      1. noun, a false, absurd, or distorted representation of something.
      “the absurdly lenient sentence is a travesty of justice”
      synonyms: perversion of, distortion of, corruption of, parody of, caricature of;
      2. verb, represent in a false or distorted way.

  123. MrsD says...

    18,300….increasing my vocabulary is one of my personal goals. Clearly some work to be done here……. :-/

  124. This is hilarious! I remember last fall listening to an episode of Slate’s Culture Gabfest where they discussed a Slate piece about “Fingerprint Words,” which are the “verbal tics that make up who we are.” However, I could not think of mine at all! And I’m a total word person and an editor…but maybe that’s why? I like to make sure I’m using the precisely correct word for each situation? My husband definitely uses the words “acquiesce” and “extraction” more than the average bear, though. :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh how interesting!! i’ve noticed my verbal tics much more since having children, since they parrot things back to you. toby started saying, “now THAT’s the life!” which i had NO idea i said until then. (now i’ve caught myself saying it a lot!) it’s so funny how you don’t even realize what you say so often.

    • Roxana says...

      Totally! My 4 year old son starts so many sentences with “Actually. . . ” Eeek! I’ve long suspected I might come across as a know-it-all (notice that I didn’t say I was :), and hearing him speak confirms my suspicions :).

      Oh, and “totally!” :)

  125. Nerissa says...

    I got 28,700 words. Still feel like I need to brush up–that was a hard quiz. I guess I should be thankful for my parents keeping the OED (with magnifying glass in drawer) around.

  126. Idh says...

    I got 13,300 I am not an English native speaker, but I’ve been leaving in Ireland for 2 years. It is not yet to the level of a native speacker, but I am quit happy with the test’s result.

  127. Liz says...

    41,200. Massive nerd alert!

    • Betsy says...

      I got 40,000 – glad I am not the biggest nerd!

    • Roxana says...

      Whoa! Bravo to the two of you!

    • Roxana says...

      Or, I should say “Brava!?” I guess we’re speaking English here, so it doesn’t matter :).

  128. Actually, ‘sonder’ isn’t a real word – it’s from the [delightfully inventive] blog Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: “the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/post/23536922667/sonder

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, thank you for sharing.

    • Sonder was the word in this post that jumped out to me right away and I am SO intrigued by the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows project! So much that I just wrote my own post about it, ha. Thanks for sharing, Joanna and Ali!

      Danielle | D is for Dreamer

  129. Kate Shu says...

    I’m always using myriad. And I love cacophony, but I feel too self conscious to use it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      a few years ago, my friend used cacophony to describe another friend’s laugh, and i still haven’t forgotten that! funny how vocab words really jump out.

    • Cacophony is one of my favorite words.

  130. Sonder! Good one.

  131. Sarah says...

    This is an awesome topic! Can’t wait to check back later. I used “duplicitous” in a conversation with my (long-time) boyfriend yesterday, and even though we’re well beyond the point of impressing each other, I was proud of myself! There’s something to be said for that gratifying feeling of using a word appropriately that’s better than lazily speaking. I’m well known for trailing off mid-sentence/thought because I just don’t care about what I’m saying!

  132. theresa says...

    36,500. Big words are so much fun!!

  133. Awads says...

    humbrage. i take humbrage a lot. and egregious. (34,200).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      lol

  134. I got 30,000, but wanted to look up every word that was on there. I say facetious, and semantics (which I don’t really thinks counts as a big word.. but still seems not casual) frequently.

    • Lauren E. says...

      My dad used facetious all the time when I was growing up! I was so proud that I knew its meaning early on. Also he said it with a faux-British accent so when I hear it in my head, that’s how it sounds.

  135. CAP says...

    I got 27,200, and was disappointed it wasn’t higher! (I got an 800 Verbal SAT, which they asked about at the end of the quiz).

  136. Haha my mom loves the word “groak” and used it often to describe, Arnold, our pug growing up.

  137. Elizabeth says...

    Felonious, as in, “Please don’t make me mad; I’m feeling felonious.”

  138. i mostly have go-to phrases, and they don’t usually include big words. i like to think that i’ve repeated them so many times that my family and friends have also begun to say “Daaaaang” and “Y’all” and “Let’s be serious” :):):)