17 Words and Phrases That Make Someone Sound Ignorant

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By Darryl Henderson

There are many ways to sound ignorant, but with such an emphasis on being grammatically correct in our everyday language, certain words and phrases are easy to misspell. To show you what we mean, here are 17 words and phrases that make someone sound ignorant.


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Replacing “regardless” with “irregardless” paints you out to be ignorant if you regularly use this in a conversation. This can make you seem less knowledgeable than you are because although “irregardless” is used by many people, it’s actually considered nonstandard English and is frequently snubbed by language experts.


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In conversations, ain’t is used regularly, especially if the conversation is casual. However, using it in formal writing and in professional settings can cast you in a negative light. Harvard Business Review suggests that successful people have better grammar skills, so if you say “ain’t” at work, prepare to be seen as ignorant!

“I could care less”

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People worldwide debate the meaning of “I could care less,” which usually signifies the opposite of what they actually mean. “I could care less” actually implies that you do care, which contradicts the real meaning. The correct phrase is “I couldn’t care less,” which indicates that you have no interest in a topic.


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Perhaps because it is easier to pronounce, “supposably” is often used in place of “supposedly,” which means “according to what is generally assumed or believed.” Using “supposably” can make you sound ignorant, as if you are uninformed or unaware of the correct term, because, ultimately, it’s just not a real word!

“I seen”

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Many people claim that saying “I seen” is a legitimate way of saying “I saw”. While Thesaurus.com recognizes this as common in some English dialects, it continues to explain that the expression is non-standard, so you should definitely avoid saying it if people think of you as ignorant!


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In coffee shop settings, ordering an “expresso” instead of an “espresso” can be embarrassing, especially as the barista will know the correct term. Espresso is the correct word for strong, concentrated coffee, and using “expresso” may make you seem like someone who doesn’t know much about coffee.


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In casual conversations, the word “converse” is often replaced by “conversate”, another example of nonstandard English. Using this will certainly make you sound ignorant; instead, use the correct term, especially if you are in formal settings such as a business meeting where you want to put your best foot forward.

“All intensive purposes”

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The correct phrase to use is “all intents and purposes,” which means “for all practical purposes” or “in every practical sense.” Saying “all intensive purposes” makes absolutely no sense, yet it’s a common error that can make you appear careless or unaware of the correct expression.

“Could of”

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Psychology Today highlights the importance of grammar, as listening to grammatically incorrect speech increases stress levels; this could explain why people get so angry when people say “Could of”! This is a common misspelling of “could have,” and while it may seem like a small error, it’s actually very noticeable. 

Using “Literally” for emphasis

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Using “literally” to highlight what you mean when you don’t actually mean something happened in a literal sense can come across as though you are exaggerating excessively. It’s important to use “literally” scarcely and only for situations where something truly happened exactly as described. Otherwise, it’s literally so annoying! 


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The usage of “nucular” instead of “nuclear” comes down to a mispronunciation error that can make you sound uninformed. Correct pronunciation is crucial for effective communication and can impact how others perceive your level of education and expertise. So, remember this next time you’re trying to have a serious discussion about nuclear physics!


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“Heighth” is an incorrect form of “height,” which attempts to refer to the measurement of something from bottom to top. It just doesn’t make sense, and there’s no logical explanation for the mistake, so if you use it, you will no doubt seem pretty ignorant. 

“Escape goat”

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“Scapegoat” refers to individuals who are blamed for something they didn’t do. Meanwhile, “Escape goat” is an awful attempt to refer to the same thing, frequently used as people are unaware of the original term. Assumably, it derives from saying “a scapegoat”, but we hardly think that is a valid excuse!

“Ex-cape” instead of “Escape”

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Next, saying “ex-cape” instead of “escape” can make you sound ignorant because it’s simply not correct. When you mispronounce common words like “escape,” people might think you don’t know how to talk properly because the spelling is pretty clear… don’t be that guy!

“Ax” instead of “ask” 

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Just like ex-cape, using “ax” in conversations instead of “ask” might make you sound ignorant because this clearly isn’t how it’s spelled! For some reason, this has become common slang, but it would sound highly unprofessional in a formal setting where you want to ask someone a question. 

Filler words such as “like,” “um,” and “you know”

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Littering your sentences with filler words like “like,” “um,” and “you know” can make you sound ignorant because they don’t add any meaning to your sentences. Instead, they make it seem like you are doubting your ability to carry a conversation. It’s hard, but try to avoid them as much as possible!

“Pacific” instead of “Specific”

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Finally, incorrectly switching “Pacific” with “specific” can lead to confusion and, more likely, amusement because while “specific” refers to something precise or particular, “Pacific” refers to the ocean. According to The Guardian, 35% of respondents to a poll were frustrated by people saying “pacifically” instead of “specifically”, making it top of our list!

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