Am quite sure you all have a few English words you have been using all wrong. Guess what! We all do. There are specific words in the English language that we often find to sound correct even when they are utterly used all wrong. Fascinating  right? Today I have compiled a list of English words you have been using all wrong in order to help you improve your English skills.

English words you have been using all wrong.


Many people use this word when they want to mean Great or fantastic. This word actually means Of great size, horrific or something that inspires fear in the English Language.

While this word means something of great size or something that inspires fear, well like a giant monster or Spider,  its use is often misinterpreted. Many people use it when they want to refer to something as “fantastic”, which is nowhere near to the original meaning of the word.

“Terrific”, in its true sense, is a negative word but in most cases people have used it used to talk about something great in a positive sense and the twisted meaning of the word is widely accepted too.


This is the commonest of the English words you have been using all wrong. In most cases, people use the word ‘Literally’ to mean ‘Figuratively’ but it’s real meaning should be ‘Actually’

“Literally” is quite clearly one of the most abused words of the present times. While in actual sense, “literally” means “actually”, people use it to lay extra stress on an emotion. Most people actually use this word to put emphasis on their statements or even make them sound very serious for example when someone says a statement like “I am Literally crying”

English words you have been using all wrong!


Many of us use this word to mean ‘Amused’ but in actuality,  this word means ‘Puzzled, bewildered or even  confused’

Well, most people have a tendency of not differentiating  the word ‘Amuse’ from ‘bemuse’.  ‘Amuse’ means to entertain someone, to make them smile or laugh or simply to make them happy. If you are amused by something, you want to laugh or smile.

“Bemused” however is nowhere near the meaning of “amused”. Even though it looks very similar to “amused”, the word “bemused” has nothing to do with being amused at all! “Bemused”, in fact, means being puzzled or confused, which is in a negative sense; quite the opposite of being “amused”.


‘Plethora’ is another crucial word on the list if English words you have been using all wrong. Many people use this word to mean Lot of, enough of something or a complete range whereas it actually means More than required or over-abundant.

The meaning of “Plethora” is that there is more of something than that which is required. But quite often, it is used to signify that there is enough of something or a complete range of options to look into. For example, we often say, “there is a plethora of shirts to choose from”.

What we usually  mean from this statement is that there are enough Shirts to choose from, or there is a complete range of shirts that you can consider and choose from. However, the statement means that there are more shirts than are actually required.


This is one of the funniest of all the English words you have been using all wrong. In most cases, people use this word to mean  Funny or unfortunate but this word actually means ‘Opposite of what is expected’

The word “irony” is often used on a regular basis and most of the time, people who use the word are referring to a very  funny incident. Keep in mind however that it is not always that an instance of irony a display of a sense of humor. In reality, “irony” is an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing, sometimes funny or even sometimes unfortunate.


People use this word to mean a problem or a situation that requires choosing from equally viable alternatives. The Correct meaning however is : A situation that requires to choose between two equally undesirable options

What people generally mean when they use the word ‘dilemma’  is that they are in a fix and can’t decide on the available options, while the real meaning of “dilemma” is to be in such a problem that both the options available are equally bad hence making it so difficult to choose from.


The word infamous is my favorite of all the English words you have been using all wrong! People use this word to mean Very famous but yet it actually means Famous for negative reasons.

This word is often incorrectly used to denote how famous a person or thing is but the word “infamous” means someone or something having an extremely bad reputation. For instance, soldiers are famous for their service and dedication to their nations, but killers are infamous for the murders they commit. It is that simple!


‘Chronic’ is one of the English words you have been using all wrong. Many people use this word when they mean Severe but in actuality, the Correct meaning is persisting for a long time

This word is used more commonly in the medical field, “chronic” and it simply means a disease or pain that has been in existence for a long time, quite often something that doesn’t go away with time. It may or may not be severe. But in practice, the word is often used to signify something severe.

English words you have been using all wrong!


Many people use this word to mean A small fact. This word however means a false fact.

The word “factoid” was first used by journalist, author and activist Norman Mailer in 1973 to talk about a “fact” that is not, in fact, true. He wrote that factoids were “facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper” that is, stuff that the media just makes up.

Today the word is used to refer to a very slim fact, a small quick fact or something that is repeated by so many people that it’s eventually assumed to be true.


Lets face it. Many people believe that the word ‘inflammable’ means Not flammable! Guess what? It actually means Flammable.

This mistake is very common for a very good reason: It just makes good sense! As the English language teaches, the prefix in- means “not,” so it would make sense for the word “inflammable” to mean “not flammable.” The problem, though, is that “inflammable” actually comes from the word “enflame.”

So what’s the difference between “flammable” and “inflammable”? Absolutely nothing. You can use either word to mean the exact same thing. Believe me when I say that English is a very weird language!

Frequently asked Questions.

What is the word for wrong in English?

They are various. They include inaccurate, incorrect, false, untrue, mistaken, improper, unsuitable.

What is the word for using big words wrong?

Sesquipedalian. This word  can also be used to describe someone or something that overuses big words, like a philosophy professor or a chemistry textbook. If someone gives a sesquipedalian speech, people often assume it was smart, even if they don’t really know what it was about because they can’t understand the words.

What is spelling mistake called in English?

A typographical error (often shortened to typo), also called a misprint, is a mistake (such as a spelling or transposition error) made in the typing of printed or electronic material.

What do you call overused words?

Cliché. This is a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays lack of original thought – means you should rarely, if ever, use them in your writing. And yet, they become clichés for a reason. Content creators love using them.

What is the situation when words sound wrong called?

Semantic satiation. This is a psychological phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who then perceives the speech as repeated meaningless sounds.

Leticia Nambaziira

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