English is a tricky language, and owing to similar sounds or confusing spellings, we can end up using some words in wrong contexts. Such embarrassment can be avoided by having a dictionary at a hand’s distance always, and augmenting vocabulary religiously. Are you maintaining that vocabulary diary you’ve been advised about?
We thought of revealing here a list of 10 words which are commonly misused in conversations. See how many have you been getting wrong!
1. Disinterested – Disinterested does not mean ‘not interested’. It means impartial. You can call a panel of judges disinterested if they are impartial, and you can call the same bunch ‘uninterested’ if they are not interested in the competition they are judging.
2. Criteria – Criteria is the plural of criterion. If there is only a single rule governing something, you call it criterion. For example, the only criterion for selection is minimum age of contestant.
3. Enervate – This is commonly used as a synonym of energize, where, in fact, it is quite the opposite. To enervate something means to weaken it.
4. Enormity – It does not depict a huge size, or enormousness. Enormity, rather, means extreme evil. For example – ‘That murder is going to shock police for the sheer enormity of it.’
5. Fortuitous – It seems similar to fortune and has hence been popularly used to mean fortunate. In actuality, it means coincidental.
6. Irregardless – Commonly used, but it is not even a word! This is often heard in conversations, but do remember, it is a combination of two words, or what is formally called a ‘portmanteau’. This one, you can avoid.
7. Luxuriant – Do not confuse this with luxurious. It means abundant. For example – ‘The countryside was blessed with luxuriant vegetation.’
8. Noisome – It is not a very popular word, but is used wrong, even if rarely. The word means ‘smelly’ and not ‘noisy’, as one would be led to believe.
9. Nonplussed – It does not mean unaffected or unimpressed. In fact, it means shocked or bewildered. For example – ‘The audience was nonplussed to see so much wrong usage of words in the speech!’
10. Parameter – While this is known to most, there are still instance where it is confused with ‘perimeter’. For the last time then, it means a variable and not the boundary limit or length.