Words That Don’t Mean What You Think

Words6

In The Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya tells Vizzini, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Vizzini isn’t alone. You might be surprised by how many words we use every day that don’t mean what we think.

How many are you guilty of misusing?

Anxious
You think it means: Eager, as in being anxious to get started on something.
It actually means: While it does mean you’re anticipating, you’re doing s with a sense of foreboding or uneasiness.

Awesome
You think it means: Very good.
It actually means: Inspiring awe.

Bemused
You think it means: Amused.
It actually means: Confused, bewildered (often to the point of being amused).

Compel
You think it means: Action taken because it’s the right thing to do.
It actually means: An action taken without choice; coercion.

Decimate
You think it means: To destroy or ruin completely.
It actually means: Removal of a tenth. For example, One out of every 10 students received a passing grade.”

Disinterested
You think it means: Lack of interest or uninterested.
It actually means: Free of bias and self-interest.

Enormity
You think it means: Something that’s very big.
It actually means: The extreme scale, seriousness or extent of something that’s bad or morally wrong. Can also mean a grave crime or sin.

Entitled
You think it means: The title of a book.
It actually means: Believing you have a special privilege or right.

Epicenter
You think it means: The center of something.
It actually means: The point on the earth’s surface directly above the focus of an earthquake

Exponential
You think it means: Very quick growth.
It actually means: An increase in the rate of growth.

Factoid
You think it means: A fun fact of little consequences.
It actually means: A fun fact that isn’t true.

Fantastic
You think it means: Very good.
It actually means: Having to do with fantasy or the imagination.

Great
You think it means: Very good.
It actually means: Very large; of unusual size; remarkable.

Hysterical
You think it means: Hilarious.
It actually means: Hysterically funny. The word draws a comparison to someone who’s in a fit of hysteria, which is a disorder that causes uncontrollable fits of emotion (e.g., laughter) or who’s in a state of hysteria.

Imply
You think it means: Strongly suggesting the truth.
It actually means: To express something in an indirect way without saying it plainly.

Infer
You think it means: Strongly suggesting the truth.
It actually means: To derive a conclusion, either from evidence or implication.

Inflammable
You think it means: Unable to catch fire.
It actually means: Capable of being set on fire; usually burning quickly.

Invariably
You think it means: When something doesn’t happen very often.
It actually means: Something that’s unchanging and constant.

Ironic
You think it means: An annoying or funny coincidence.
It actually means: Words or situations that are the opposite of what you think or expect.

Irregardless
You think it means: Regardless.
It actually means: Nothing. It’s not a word.

Literally
You think it means: Figuratively or a way to add emphasis to any sentence, as in “Miley Cyrus’s outfits are literally the worst thing ever.”
It actually means: In a literal or strict sense. For example, something that really happened, without exaggeration or inaccuracy.

Masterful
You think it means: Highly skilled.
It actually means: Powerful and able to control others, not necessarily in a negative way.

Nauseated
You think it means: To feel sick.
It actually means: To make someone feel sick; to fill with disgust.

Nonplussed
You think it means: Unconcerned or unperturbed.
It actually means: The opposite. Surprised and confused to the point of not knowing how to react.

Notorious
You think it means: Well-known or famous.
It actually means: Famous for a bad quality or deed.

Occasionally
You think it means: Rarely.
It actually means: At infrequent or irregular intervals.

Peruse
You think it means: Skim.
It actually means: Read or examine carefully and thoroughly.

Pristine
You think it means: Spotless or as good as new.
It actually means: Ancient, primeval; in a state virtually unchanged from the original.

Refute
You think it means: To deny something.
It actually means: To prove a statement or theory to be untrue.

Terrific
You think it means: Very good.
It actually means: Frightening, terrifying.

Travesty
You think it means: A tragedy.
It actually means: A false, absurd or distorted version of something.

Tortuous
You think it means: Feels like you’ve been tortured.
It actually means: Full of twists and turns; complex.

Unique
You think it means: Special.
It actually means: The only one (or one of a few) of its kind.

How many can you add to the list?

About The Ys One

I am an award-winning writer and editor who is passionate about writing. I hope you enjoyed this post. Want more? Sign up for my newsletter and receive tips, tricks and advice about writing and social media marketing. To learn more visit www.theysonewriting.com.
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