SparkNotes Blog

26 Vocab Terms You Should Add to Your Daily Lexicon to Be Even More Impressive

You’re the kinda gal/guy who turns blush when somebody calls you nerdy (compliment much?), you relish one-on-one chats with your elders (’cause they’ve got all that tasty sage wisdom on tap), and your close friend collection is brimming with fictional characters (same).

Hey, high five to you because outside of some zombie apocalypse hellscape, having a big, healthy brain is always a plus. And we’re here not just to share in some laugh lines between study sessions but also to help you rack up a few more IQ points.

No doubt, your everyday display of aptitude is already giving everyone around you goals, but adding these words to your daily verbiage will make you the lingo-slinging envy of your pals.

Amenable
Here’s where you can do away with basic phrase-age like “I’m open to that,” and throw this four-syllable gem in to refer to yourself or someone else being super cooperative or agreeable to an idea or suggestion. (BTW, amiable and affable are amenable’s friendly sisters and come in handy when you’re talking about that extra cheery pal of yours.)

Bombastic
We all have that friend of a friend who inflates every molehill story into the biggest mountain of a saga and lives for hyperboles, right? But you – you’re too with it to fall for all the exaggeration and can see right through to the nothing that whatever “it” is really is/was/always will be. This is a fantastic (rhyme intended there) way to describe what’s going on there that may or may not have your lesser lexicon-ed buds reaching for the dictionary to keep up with your wit.

Conundrum
Whatever hang-up you’re wrangling with will sound a lot more approachable when you refer to it using this little pearl of parlance.

Discombobulated
There’s honestly no better way to describe that feeling when your life is a mountain of mess and you don’t have the first clue where to begin climbing it (sidebar: the first step is to breathe).

Egregious
When you see something especially fail going down, here’s your new go-to adjective to dub the error. But it’s not your only option here; atrocious and dreadful also have a certain conversational cachet in this realm of error talk.

Fatuous
Fair warning: This little jab might go right over its recipient’s head because it’s a sassy synonym for silly or foolish but totally sounds like it’s suggesting something a little meaner.

Gauche
For that completely awkward person/thing/encounter that leaves you ten shades of what afterward, here’s a term that subs for klutzy and graceless.

Heterodox
Breaking the mold is not only fun to do, but it’s fun to talk about too.

Imbroglio
The more puzzling moments of existence can be summed up with this little-used noun that puts an Italian spin on complication.

Jollity
For when you’re feeling extra jolly.

Knave
Shakespeare would approve of you using this word to describe the less scrupulous individual(s) in your life.

Livid
A sentence like “I’m angry” becomes so much more effective when you throw this criminally underused synonym for mad into the mix. This word has the concept of GRRR so built in with the lip-bite action that’ll happen with the “v” sound that it might as well count as onomatopoeia and it’s a little bit therapeutic just to even say it. A wordy win all around.

Mawkish
Sometimes sentimentality morphs into straight-up sappiness, and there’s a word for that too.

Nihilist
Let’s hope you never need this one, but if you do happen across someone who fits this description by rejecting all notions of morality, at least you’ll know what to call ‘em.

Opprobrium
It’s an election year in America, which means this kind of criticism of public figures is at peak levels of nastiness right about now.

Palliative
SATs are easier to bear when you actually like learning all the language, so this post itself is pretty palliative. (See what we did there?)

Reverie
To describe those fleeting moments of pure bliss in a bottle.

Salubrious
Reward yourself for all those healthy eating decisions with this pleasant qualifier.

Trite
When something’s totally played out, slip this amazing adjective in to describe it because (a) it sounds really cool, like a reference to a sea god from Greek mythology or Finnick Odair’s spear friend, and (b) it, unlike whatever worn-out topic you’ll relate it to, has not been overused to eye-rolly proportions.

Unctuous
Compliments can sometimes be sickly sweet, so when the flattery has officially reached the point of annoyance, this is what you can call that.

Vacillate
Waxing and waning never sounded so fun.

Winsome
Growing up is important and all, but if we can manage to hold onto that sense of childlike wonder, it’s a win. Get it?

Xenial
It’s like genial but way fancier.

Yawp
This little guy is yelp’s southern-sounding brother.

Zephyr
This might be most commonly associated with aircraft, but it also represents a nice, soft breeze.

What’s your favorite $20 word? Tell us in the comments below!