10 Words That You May Think You Know the Meaning of, But Probably Don’t

Coca-cola vending machine and pepsi lorryEditors and proofreaders can be pretty annoying, and their tendency to point out the slightest error in your written English can really grind. You only need to take a quick look at many of the blogs that are published online to see that your written English is better than most. In fact, sometimes you may actually purposefully break the rules of grammar; that’s fine. However, breaking the rules of grammar and vocabulary by mistake is not, and if you use words incorrectly then you just look plain old dumb.

Here are ten words that are commonly completely misused. Familiarize yourself with them and do us all a favor and use them correctly for a change.

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You may think it means: An interesting or amusing coincidence.

“I waited for the bus for 45 minutes and then three arrived at once. How ironic.”


It actually means: The opposite of what is appropriate, expected, or fitting.

“It was very ironic when, just moments after her car accident, Sarah declared that she ‘felt like a million bucks.’”


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You may think it means: Useless and unable to perform a function.

“The oven stopped working and was redundant.”


It actually means: Surplus to requirements.

“The company was forced to make 50 people redundant.”


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You may think it means: To respond or reply to something.

“I will revert on the matter in due course.”


It actually means: To return to its former state.

“The plant reverted to its former glory after it was watered.”


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You may think it means: Quickly or without intervention.

“He jumped out of his chair in an instant when he heard the crash outside.”


It actually means: A very precise moment in time.

“In that instant, I knew I was in love.”


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You may think it means: Enormous, an extremely important situation.

“It wasn’t until the court summons appeared that I realized the enormity of the situation.”


It actually means: Extremely evil.

“The enormity of his evil plans shocked everyone.”


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You may think it means: Serious, severe, or really bad.

“The amount of homework I need to complete by Friday is chronic.”


It actually means: A long-term medical condition.

“James suffered from a chronic back complaint.”




You may think it means: Not interested in something.

“He stared at me with a disinterested look that told me he wasn’t listening to a word I said.”


It actually means: Independent.

“The jury was formed of disinterested parties.”


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You may think it means: To completely destroy something.

“The building was completely decimated after the explosion.”


It actually means: That ten percent of an entity is destroyed.

“The Roman army decimated their enemy and killed one in ten soldiers.”


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You may think it means: The best, or most important.

“The fact that she bought the same dress as me is the ultimate compliment.”


It actually means: The last in a list of items.

“The ultimate item on my list was the most difficult to achieve.”




You may think it means: To quickly skim through a written document.

“I absent-mindedly perused the newspaper as I waited for the doctor to call me.”


It actually means: To read thoroughly and in detail.

“I perused the entire textbook but still needed to learn more.”


Do you struggle with your vocabulary? Our expert rewriting services can help you to perfect your written documents in a matter of hours.

Do you like these? Check out these funny abbreviations.



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