Below are words that don't mean what do think. Read on to see if have use them in a wrong manner.

Part 1



People think it means: Regardless.

Actually means: Not a damned thing.

This is not a word. Now, we have no problem with making up words (if a particular scent can only be described as "fartalicious," we reserve the right to call it so). The problem with this one is "regardless" already means something isn't worth regard (that's why the "less" is there) so adding the "ir" to it means... it's worth regarding again? Who knows.

Should you care?

If there's ever a time to speak up, this is probably it. Mainly because this is one of those words used almost exclusively by people trying to sound smarter than they are. Remind them that when using fake words to at least try to use ones that have some kind of meaning, if they want to avoid unnecessary cockulance when speaking.



People think it means: To skim over or browse something.

Actually means: Almost the opposite of that.

Peruse means "to read with thoroughness or care." If you peruse a book, you leave no page unturned. This makes sense when you consider the Middle English per use, meaning "to wear out or use up." Unfortunately, if you "consider the Middle English" very often when speaking, you're probably not exactly the life of the party.

Should you care?

You could make the argument that the way people use it is so far off from the original meaning that it's worth fighting for, but there is almost no way to do it tactfully:

"What are you doing, Chris?"

"Oh, just perusing the report here before the meeting."


So, perhaps the best thing is to just lead by example and start using the word correctly yourself. But, this can create its own problems:

"Hey Sharon, What's Chris doing?"

"Oh, he said he was perusing that new report."

"Then why is he hunched over it with his tongue out, re-reading the opening page for the ninth time?"

"Gosh, I don't know. I guess he must be clinically retarded."



People think it means: Any kind of amusing coincidence.

Actually means: An outcome that is the opposite of what you'd expect.

So, if a porn star moved to Virgin, Utah, that would be ironic. If the same porn star bought a house in Boner Knob, Montana that would not be ironic.

Should you care?

We realize this is a technical point. But, it's almost worth taking a stand because the word has been abused to the point that it can mean anything.

"She always said she wanted to marry a dentist! And then she married Bob, who is a dentist! Isn't that ironic?"

"I went on my cigarette break, but there was a No Smoking sign! Isn't that ironic?"

"I just pooped in your aquarium! Isn't that ironic?"

We have to draw the line somewhere, don't we?



People think it means: Unperturbed, not worried.

Actually means: Utterly perplexed or confused. It comes from the Latin non plus (a state in which nothing more can be done).

The misunderstanding would seem to stem from people making semi-educated guesses as to the word's meaning, which kind of sounds like it means "unruffled" or something like that.

Should you care?

If your roommate says:

"The doctor called about your herpes test. He sounded nonplussed."

Then, yeah, it's pretty important that you know what he meant. Either the doc wasn't worried, or the doc was perplexed by the sight of some strand of alien herpes he had never witnessed prior, depending on whether or not your roommate knows how to use the word.

Though, if any of your friends actually start using words like "nonplussed" in conversation, regardless of the meaning, they may deserve a good cock punching anyway.



People think it means: "Spotless" or "as good as new."

Actually means: "Ancient, primeval; in a state virtually unchanged from the original."

It's therefore perfectly possible to have a pristine mountain of fossilized brontosaurus shit, but if you were to buff that mountain to a lustrous shine, it would no longer be pristine.

Should you care?

The meanings are close enough that correcting somebody sounds like grammar Nazi hair-splitting. That's a shame, because there were lots of words that mean "clean" but none that have the exact same meaning as "pristine."

If you use pristine correctly yourself, you probably won't land yourself in too much trouble, unless someone buys your "pristine" house on eBay without realizing that it's an authentic 14th century dung hovel complete with never-been-used plague rats.



People think it means: Mildly amused.

Actually means: Bewildered or confused.

If you were to say "I was bemused by your dead baby joke," you wouldn't be saying the joke was funny. You'd be saying that you completely failed to understand it. You were following the story up to and including the bit about the trowel, but you'd lost the thread way before the Ku Klux masturbation climax.

Should you care?

It's hard to blame people for getting this one wrong, the word just sounds like it means, "sort of amused." We blame the people who originally invented the word. You should probably let the new meaning take over unless, you know, you're a dick.



People think it means: Enormous.

Actually means: Outrageous or heinous on a grand scale. War crimes are enormities. Extra-big bouncy castles are not.

Should you care?

This is one of those words you really don't need to be using anyway, unless you're giving a speech at the U.N. Just remember that if you say to your girl, "I hope you're prepared for the enormity of my dick," you're implying that your penis is responsible for several acts of evil on the scale of ethnic genocide. This may or may not turn her on, depending on the girl.



People think it means: Nobody is sure.

Actually means: Nobody is sure.

Specifically, we're talking about when the word is used with some other adjective. Like if somebody says, "The turd pool is deceptively shallow," does that mean it's deeper than it appears, or not as deep?

If you're not sure, don't feel bad. The American Heritage Dictionary asked their word experts and they said they had no fucking idea, either. So ... nobody knows.

Should you care?

So, if you say (to a lady, perhaps), "I possess a deceptively large set of balls," you could mean that your modest bulge belies the real heft of your testicles, which are actually so pendulous that you're forced to strap them to your legs. However, you could also mean that you have tiny love eggs, and that your ball-shaped jean protrusions are actually caused by the hideous malformation of your wang. This is obviously something you want to avoid.

If ever there was a case to be made for clarity of language, this is it. If you use it at all, make sure the context makes the meaning totally clear. "My balls are deceptively large," you could say, "because I have just inflated my genitalia with a bicycle pump."

What this also means is that technically the usage is never wrong ... or right. If you're the type who just likes to correct people to be a dick, well, this one is a gold mine.



People think it means: A lot of something.

Actually means: Too much of something, an over-abundance.

It's the difference between:

"Dude, I am jonesing to go snort a plethora of medicinal-grade barbiturates right now."

And ...

"Dude, I just snorted a plethora of medicinal-grade barbiturates, and now there are hundreds of terrifying arachnids crawling out of my penis. They all have human lips."

Should you care?

As with "enormity," you're courting a certain amount of dickery by using "plethora" at all; most of the time, you can get the same point across by saying "a big ol' shitload." However, the original meaning of over-abundance is worth hanging onto, because it seems as if there's no direct replacement other than "too many big ol'shitloads," which doesn't have quite the same degree of pith.

Interestingly, "plethora" once meant "an over-abundance of bodily fluids" so if you heard your doctor say this back in the 1700s, it meant they were about to stick a bunch of leeches on you.


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