10 words that do not mean what you think they mean.


Words can be deceiving sometimes, especially that the English language, or any language for that matter, is always evolving. There are words that confuse the logic out of our nerdy heads because we thought they meant something but in fact, they mean a completely different thing. So here is a list of some of the words that do not mean what you think they mean.


Bemused

If you think bemused means the same thing as amused, you're absolutely wrong. And if you are someone who is reading this for the first time, you might be confused. And that's exactly what bemused means: confused.

Disinterested

Disinterested does not mean uninterested, at all. So, if you find a movie to be boring and a waste of your time, you are uninterested, not disinterested. Disinterested means that you don't have any stake in the outcome because you're not invested in something. The two words are used interchangeably a lot these days that they have become synonymous, but it is a distinction that style guides are keen to maintain.

Electrocute

Ever accidentally stick your finger in an electrical outlet and get electrocuted? Well, you were not electrocuted unless you died after the accident and got buried, you just got a mild electric shock. Because the word electrocute means to kill or execute someone with an electric shock. Remember the electric chair to help you make the distinction.



Factoid

Factoid is not synonymous with fact. The word factoid is a relatively new word that was coined by Norman Mailer in 1973, and unlike most people who use the word today, he meant for it to mean fake news that people believe just because they've seen it written somewhere. So, a factoid is not a fun trivia fact, it's a tabloid. 

Nonplussed

This is a word that is often misused because of its deceptive nature. Unlike what most people think, it does not mean 'not bothered'. Nonplussed means confounded and perplexed and as such derives from the Latin expression non plus which literally means no more. So, if you are nonplussed you may be in a situation in which you are so bewildered and confused that you can't take no more.


Plethora

Plethora does not mean a 'lot of'. Strictly speaking, it means 'too much of' or an 'overabundance of'. This makes perfect sense from an etymological point of view as plethora was originally a medical term meaning surplus or imbalance of bodily fluids—and in particular blood—that could be blamed for a period of ill health; in that sense, it literally means “fullness” in Greek.


Peruse

We often hear people saying they are perusing a newspaper or a magazine in the sense that they are browsing it. Please, people, stop saying that! Peruse does not mean browse. In fact, it means the opposite. When you peruse something, you study it thoroughly and in great detail.

Regularly 

Regularly is not synonymous with often, nor is it with frequently. If something happens often, it does not mean it happens regularly and vice versa. When something happens regularly, it happens at regular, ordered intervals or in a predictable, uniform way.

Luxuriant 

Because it sounds like luxurious, most people assume they mean the same thing, naaah! If something is luxuriant is not necessarily expensive. Instead, it is lush, overblown, or prolifically overabundant.



Refute

Refute and deny are not the same. If you say "I refute that", you don't mean that you merely deny or refuse it, it means you can prove it to be false.

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much! I love language and words, and I'm proud of my extensive vocabulary...but I had no idea I was using "peruse" and "regularly" the wrong way. Lesson learned!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And misnomer doesn't mean mistake
      It means wong name

      Delete
  2. Well, it's nice to know my life long love of reading has been beneficial. The only one I have been using wrong is peruse.

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    Replies
    1. ‘Wrong’ is an adjective and if you wish to describe how something has been used, that requires an adverb, so you should write ‘wrongly’ or ‘incorrectly’. Just a grammatical point ����.

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    2. Jocie, do you say, "He was driving too fastly"? No, you say "He was driving too fast." The word "wrong" can serve as an adverb in addition to as an adjective. As with the word "fast," they are called "flat adverbs." However, if you were joking with what you wrote, then I apologize for the grammar lesson.

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    3. Jodie, trying to get Americans to use adverbs is a lost cause

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    4. Rochelle is correct. Wrong has been adj and adv for 700 years. When it comes to reading rules to others, it is always good to remember Pope: “A little learning is a dangerous thing.”

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    5. On the other hand, you would say, "He was wrongly accused."

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    6. David1-6, How many Americans do you know personally? Do you have experience in trying to teach Americans or are you just a British or other anglophone snob?

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    7. peruse actually has both meanings of 'study in detail' and 'read through in a cursory manner'; you can use it either way.

      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peruse

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  3. In the description of nonplussed, the last line is "confused that you can't take no more." which should by either ...you can't take any more, or ...you can take no more. The double negative is not correct.

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    Replies
    1. Huh. I assumed that was a deliberate use of a double negative, something I sometimes do for effect.

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    2. I took it as Freda took it. Deliberate use.

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  4. mmm... better check dictionary for "bemused"... it's more subtle than "confused"...

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  5. I am so irritated by the heading of this and similar articles. How do you know what I understand and what I don't? None of these examples was news to me, and I take exception to the patronising tone so often evident in Language Nerds articles. You get ir wrong from time to time too, you know!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you didn't have to click and read you know. Perhaps you just like being annoyed.

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    2. That was funny "unknown". That made me laugh out loud because it was so spot on.

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  6. I have been using peruse incorrectly for my entire adult life. I'm so ashamed.

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  7. One word that is often misspelled is "pore" .....many times, you see it spelled pour....!

    To me, this word "pore" means to read carefully, while seeking to understand.

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  8. 'Ultimate' is another one... People often use it to mean 'the best' when really it is the last of something.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Careful. . . .`You are correct when you say: `Ultimate' is the last of something or being or happening at the end of a process; final. That is, when used as an adjective. However, `Ultimate' when used as a NOUN, does mean:
      1. the best achievable or imaginable of its kind.
      2. a final or fundamental fact or principle.

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    2. and penultimate means next to the last, not very ultimate

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  9. You cant take no more! Really?
    I think it should be "you cant take any more"

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  10. Sorry but let down by really bad grammar and punctuation. "you can't take no more".............seriously.

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  11. Simplistic is not a fancy way to say "simple"

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  12. Learned something; however, my pet peeve word is "verbiage". I cringe when, for example, people say "add this verbiage to the paragraph." Why won't they just say add this text, or language, or content. It's like nails on a chalkboard to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They use the word "verbiage" because they think it makes them seem more intellectual.

      Delete
  13. I am nonplussed at your explanation of nonplussed because you used a double negative - "can't take no more." Sad.

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  14. I studied linguistics at university and the school of thought that I agree most with is that language is a tool to achieve common understanding. So if.i understand what.you say or.write to be the same as your intent, then you have communicated effectively. What was once an adverb may now be used as.an adjective, as long as we have a common understanding of what you mean. And I think we do.

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    1. I was born in the States but I have many friends that were born in Britain and though we think we are using the same language, very often we are not. For example, I was taken aback by someone asking a man to knock her up in the morning. To the British, it means to wake someone up. Another friend bought a pattern to make a jumper. It turns out that in Britain it means a pullover sweater whereas in America it means a sleeveless dress that is often worn over a blouse. I could go on but I'm sure you get the idea.

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  15. I literally can't beieve you didn't have literally in this list..
    (iront alert!)

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  16. how about infamous? does not mean famous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only in the negative sense. Infamous is similar to notorious.

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  17. Tease me until I’m begging for it Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)

    ReplyDelete

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