- Books, Literature, and Writing
Does Using Big Words Make You Sound More Intelligent?
What does it really take to sound as if you know what you are talking about? Many people believe that the use of big words will make you sound smarter, but that approach only works if you know the meanings of those words and use them correctly. Anyone can spout out a string of multi-syllabic words, but do they possess the logic to use them in the right context? Furthermore, does the person with whom they are trying to communicate understand the words that the speaker/writer is using?
Effective communication can only occur when the message sent is received and interpreted in the manner intended by the receiving party. In other words, you want to make sure that you choose your words carefully, so that people can understand what you are trying to say. Using too many big words can confuse and intimidate some people. Personally, I find it a big turn-off to have to grab a dictionary in order to get through a book or article.
Now this is just me ranting, but nonetheless, it's an excellent example. The textbook for my pop culture class, Cultural Theory and Popular Culture , by John Storey, is very hard to read through. The author uses way too many large words, and I end up running for a dictionary every time I sit down to read it. While the author uses these large words correctly, he forgets that many average people don't understand the terminology that he is using.
So, yes, I believe that using a few large words can make you sound more intelligent, but only if they are used properly, with a solid knowledge of the subject matter, and can be easily understood by your audience. Using large words improperly can actually have the opposite effect.