17 Pretentious Words & What to Use Instead

17 Pretentious Words & What to Use Instead


In this infographic, our guest blogger shares 17 pretentious words and what to use instead.

Jennifer Frost writes: ‘When you go to a job interview or a fancy party, you probably put on a nicer outfit than you’d usually wear.

There’s nothing wrong with looking nice when the occasion calls for it—especially in these days of athleisure.

But do you dress up your language too?

Unlike fancy clothes, pretentious talk is likely to alienate people, not earn their admiration.

The effect is even worse when you pair pompous phrases with casual hipster attire. Fingernails on a chalkboard, anyone?

The following infographic, “17 Pretentious Words & What to Use Instead,” tells you what NOT to say if you want to make a good impression.’

17 Pretentious Words & What to Use Instead

17 Pretentious Words & What to Use Instead

Source for infographic: Grammar Check

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our course in Johannesburg.

If you are looking for more infographics, you might like these:

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  6. Breaking Down Writer’s Block

This article has 4 comments

  1. Fiona

    What a pretentious post! Why has it become fashionable to denigrate the use of foreign and polysyllabic words? English has gained its rich well of words for expressing a multitude of thoughts and feelings from its ability to espouse and assimilate words from other languages. Lack of knowledge of the huge vocabulary available to English speakers should not be a reason to suggest it’s preferable to use a Germanic based Anglo-Saxon vocabulary to the exclusion of all others. If we continue to attack the use of our rich tapestry of OED accepted words we will lose much and gain little!

  2. Anne

    Dear Fiona,
    Apropos your comments, I support your feelings. In writing, one must of course take cognizance of one’s intended readership; but in writing for my peers, I would be making a faux pas in artificially simplifying my native intellectual writing style.

  3. Laurie

    I think the pretentiousness of many of these words is only true in certain contexts and in certain groups. I know I’ve heard several of these words used in regular conversation in my workplace which employees a diverse group of folks with varied educational backgrounds, interests, etc. Specifically: sans, plethora, M.O., faux pas, pretentious, apropos, per se, milieu. Granted, no one here “summers” or “winters” anywhere, but we all certainly no what a faux pas is, what sans means, etc. I somewhat feel as though the individual writing this is pretentious in suggesting common-folk can’t appreciate using a variety of words.

  4. Barbara Harper

    I wonder if this varies from country to country. I see plethora, faux pas, per se, M.O, paradigm often without thinking twice about it. “Many, plenty, lots” all seem plain-Jane compared to plethora.

    I do find Latin and French phrases (“quid pro quo,” “Je ne sais quoi ,” etc.) a little pretentious, though. And since I don’t use them myself or hear them often, I have to look up what they mean every time.

    Maybe pretentiousness is in the eye of the beholder to some degree.

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