29 words to add to your vocab to instantly sound smarter

Have you ever found yourself at a loss for words, struggling to express your thoughts and ideas with precision and eloquence? 

Or maybe you just want to sound a little smarter in your everyday conversations. Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to sound just a bit smarter?  

Well, we have compiled a list of 29 words to add to your vocabulary that will instantly boost your intellectual prowess (and make you the envy of your friends). 

Ready to impress with your vast intellect? Let’s dive in! 

1) Equanimity

Do you stay calm and composed even in difficult situations? Then I’d say you have equanimity, the power to stay stable under stress or pressure.  

Equanimity in a sentence: “The yoga teacher taught her students to cultivate equanimity in the face of stress and anxiety.”

2) Ineffable 

I won’t lie, when I first watched Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, it left me feeling ineffable. This word means to be too great or extreme to be expressed in words

Ineffable in a sentence: “The beauty of the natural landscape was ineffable, leaving me speechless.”

3) Ubiquitous

Think of something that’s present everywhere…phones, microwaves, Facebook…those are ubiquitous things. My personal favorite is air – literally can’t live without it!

 Ubiquitous in a sentence: “In the modern world, smartphones have become ubiquitous.”

4) Placate 

To placate means to calm or soothe someone’s anger or anxiety–in fact, I had to placate my dad after I dented his car a few weeks ago. 

Placate in a sentence: “The mother tried to placate her crying child by offering a toy.”

5) Quagmire 

Do you have a problem you can’t solve? A predicament you can’t get out of? Or if you want to get idiomatic about it…are you in a pickle? Then you’re in a quagmire. Use this word, and at least you’ll sound smart even while you can’t figure it out! 

Quagmire in a sentence: “The project became a quagmire, with multiple setbacks and obstacles.”

6) Discombobulate

You know that feeling when you wake up from a crazy dream and you’re not sure where you are? That confused and disoriented feeling? That’s what being discombobulated feels like. 

Discombobulate in a sentence: “The chaotic scene in the emergency room discombobulated the new medical intern.”

7) Sagacious 

A sagacious businessman would rarely fail in his goals. You know why? Because he’s wise and insightful! 

Sagacious in a sentence: “The monk’s sagacious advice helped me navigate a difficult decision.”

8) Supercilious 

Chances are you have a few supercilious characters in your life, you know, those arrogant or condescending types. You can’t debate people who are supercilious by nature, they refuse to give in. 

Supercilious in a sentence: “Forget about the supercilious attitude, we’re all equal here.”

9) Truculent 

Nobody likes a truculent person – someone who’s aggressive or hostile. The other night at a bar there was a rowdy and truculent guy that eventually got kicked out. Thank you, bouncer. 

Truculent in a sentence: “The truculent dog barked and growled at everyone who passed by.”

10) Serendipity

Did happy things happen to you by chance? Then you’ve experienced serendipity, much like what happened when scientist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by accident. 

Serendipity in a sentence: “Meeting my soulmate was a stroke of serendipity, as we happened to be in the same coffee shop at the same time.”

11) Ameliorate 

After being an hour late for lunch with my girlfriend, I ameliorated things by picking up the check… and buying her a bouquet of flowers. Obviously, ameliorate means to improve or make something better. 

Ameliorate in a sentence: “The new CEO implemented changes to ameliorate the company’s financial situation.”

12) Vexed 

This is something you feel when you’re driving and some idiot cuts you off. Annoyed? Frustrated? Yep, that’s what vexed means!  

Vex in a sentence: “The constant noise from the construction site vexed the residents of the neighborhood.”

13) Ethereal 

If you want to score points with your wife, call her next date outfit ethereal and hopefully, she’ll understand that you’re saying she looks delicate or otherworldly. Something I think I’ll try this weekend…

Ethereal in a sentence: “The ballerina’s performance was ethereal, as she floated across the stage.”

14) Languid 

The morning after some intense weight training the other day, I was positively languid, barely able to get out of bed. It’s a word I use when I want a fancy word for sluggish or lazy.  

Languid in a sentence: “After eating that heavy meal, I felt so languid I could hardly move.”

15) Petulant 

This is an alternative way to call someone a brat, the perfect word to use for people who are immature and want to get their way all the time. 

Petulant in a sentence: “The petulant teenager slammed the door and refused to speak to her parents.”

16) Erudite 

Sometimes, when I manage to get through a few chapters of a book, I feel like an erudite man. Erudite means to be knowledgeable or scholarly, just like I feel when I use this word. 

Erudite in a sentence: “The erudite professor was a leading expert in his field.”

17) Sardonic 

Another version of sarcastic, cynical, or mocking. If you have a dark and sardonic sense of humor, we’ll probably get along. 

Sardonic in a sentence: “The comedian’s sardonic humor often poked fun at societal norms.”

18) Superfluous 

I went to a birthday party last month and the whole production was superfluous, complete with live dance performances, costumes, and lengthy speeches. Simply put, it was unnecessary and excessive. 

Superfluous in a sentence: “The long-winded speech was full of superfluous information that could have been omitted.”

19) Veracity 

In the age of fake news, there are websites dedicated to veracity and fact-checking. Veracity refers to the truthfulness or accuracy of something. An important word nowadays. 

Veracity in a sentence: “The journalist’s dedication to veracity made her a respected figure in the industry.”

20) Juxtaposition 

When you park a jalopy next to a Range Rover, one could definitely call that a glaring juxtaposition. Juxtaposition is the placement of two things side by side for comparison, often used for art or things of aesthetic value.  

Juxtaposition in a sentence: “The artist’s painting was a juxtaposition of bright colors and dark shadows.”

21) Sagacity

We all have a friend that we turn to for wisdom or good judgment during tough times. Or if you want to sound highfalutin…sagacity. 

Sagacity in a sentence: “The woman’s sagacity helped her navigate complex situations with ease.”

22) Harbinger 

When the weather gets a bit gloomy, some might say it’s a harbinger of things to come. Harbinger refers to a sign or indicator of something that’s about to happen, usually not in a good way. 

Harbinger in a sentence: “The first snow of the season was a harbinger of the cold winter ahead.”

23) Iconoclast 

My favorite standup comedian and philosopher George Carlin (may he rest in peace) was definitely an iconoclast – a rebel or someone who challenges conventional thinking. 

Iconoclast in a sentence: “The artist’s work was considered iconoclastic for its unconventional style.”

24) Morose

It’s that sullen and gloomy feeling we get sometimes when we’re thinking about sad things. Or when we’ve got a bad hangover. 

Morose in a sentence: “The morose teenager spent most of his time alone, lost in his own thoughts.”

25) Nefarious

Remember the warden in the Shawshank Redemption? Well, I’d say his intentions were pretty nefarious, really wicked or criminal. If you have an enemy in life, you can start describing them as nefarious.

Nefarious in a sentence: “The nefarious criminal organization was responsible for a string of robberies in the city.”

26) Paucity

“The paucity of dateable men in this city is at an all-time low,” a friend texted in the group chat. Well, using a word like that to refer to a lack or scarcity may be a sign she’s too smart for her own good sometimes. 

Paucity in a sentence: “The paucity of affordable housing in the city has become a growing concern.”

27) Taciturn 

Taciturn basically means reserved or quiet. I have a friend who may be taciturn, but after a few beers, he becomes the life of the party. 

Taciturn in a sentence: “The taciturn professor rarely spoke during class, but his knowledge was evident in his writing.”

28) Vestige 

When you travel, use this word to impress your friends. Say something like, “When I was in Hanoi for instance, I observed the vestiges of French imperialism in the city’s architecture and even food.” Vestige refers to a trace or remnant of something that is no longer present. 

Vestige in a sentence: “The old building was the last vestige of a bygone era in the city’s history.”

29) Whimsical

In addition to being heavily overpriced, Disneyland has a whimsical feel to it–two of the reasons I never go. To be whimsical is to be playful or fanciful, like the setting in your favorite fairytale or the Shire from the LOTR films.  

Whimsical in a sentence: “The whimsical artwork brought a smile to everyone’s face.”


Expanding your vocabulary can be a fun and easy way to sound smarter and more sophisticated in conversations, writing, and other forms of communication. 

Incorporating these 29 words into your lexicon can help you express yourself more accurately and eloquently. However, use them with care, or else they can make you sound pedantic or pretentious. 

Instead, let them add color and depth to your language, making your words more memorable and impactful!

Picture of Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta

Daniel Mabanta is a freelance writer and editor, entrepreneur and an avid traveler, adventurer and eater. He lives a nomadic life, constantly on the move. He is currently in Manila, Philippines and deciding where his next destination will be.

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