18 Words and Phrases That Make Someone Sound Ignorant

While it is not fair, people judge us by the way we speak. When we speak, the people listening to us draw conclusions about us. In this article, we talk about 18 phrases you may use that might make you sound ignorant.

I could care less

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Using “I could care less” ironically shows that you might care more than you intend to reveal. This phrase is often used to express indifference, but it technically suggests the speaker does care to some degree. According to Grammarly (and everyone, really), the right way to say it is “I couldn’t care less.”

At the end of the day

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“At the end of the day” is often used to fill space or attempt to sound profound but ends up adding little to the conversation. To avoid falling into this trap, focus on being direct and specific in your communication. Instead of leaning on this overused phrase, try summarizing your point or conclusion with clear, concise language that directly addresses the topic.

A whole another

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This phrase incorrectly splits “another” into two parts, inserting an unrelated word. While common in casual conversation, it’s very incorrect, especially in formal contexts. “Another” or “a whole other” are both grammatically correct and carry the same meaning.

Literally, used figuratively

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When someone says they are literally dying of laughter, we know they’re still very much alive and kicking. “Literally” is often used for emphasis on things that are figurative, not literal. The Cambridge Dictionary defines “literally” as using the real or original meaning of a word or phrase. We’re guessing that if you were literally dying, you would not be laughing.


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“Irregardless” is often used but is not correct English. The correct word is “regardless,” which means “without regard.” The prefix ir- is redundant because “regardless” already means there is no need for concern.

For all intensive purposes

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This is a mondegreen of “for all intents and purposes,” which means “in every practical sense.” Grammarist defines a mondegreen as a misheard word or phrase that makes sense in your head, but is in fact entirely incorrect.


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When someone says “supposably,” they obviously mean “supposedly.” “Supposedly” refers to something believed or assumed, not “supposably,” which is not correct English.


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Ordering an expresso might give away that you’re not as familiar with coffee culture as you think. The correct term is espresso, referring to a type of coffee. Correct pronunciation reflects awareness of the term’s Italian origin.


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Using “expecially” can indicate a lack of attention to pronunciation details. The correct word is “especially,” which means “particularly” or “to a great extent.” It is used to single out one person, thing, or situation over all others.

Could of

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“Could of” is a misinterpretation of “could’ve,” the contraction of “could have.” It shows a lack of understanding of English contractions. “Could have” or “could’ve” are both correct ways to express possibility in the past.

Pacifically instead of specifically

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“Pacifically” means that something relates to the Pacific Ocean, while “specifically” means “in a precise manner.” It can also mean peacefully or calmly, according to the Collins Dictionary. With such words, it is always helpful to check the spelling to make sure the pronunciation matches.

On accident

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When people say “on accident,” they’re using a phrase that’s more casual and not correct in formal writing. This term has become more common in everyday speech, but it’s still seen as incorrect compared to the standard “by accident.” The use of “on accident” is a sign of how language changes over time, but it’s important to remember that it’s not accepted in more formal situations.

I seen it

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The phrase “I seen it” is a common mistake that shows a misunderstanding of the correct past tense in English. The proper ways to express this idea are “I saw it” or “I have seen it.” Using “I seen it” can make it seem like you’re not paying attention to the basic rules of grammar.


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Saying “anyways” is a more casual way to transition between topics and is often used in spoken language. However, in writing and more formal speech, the correct term is “anyway.” It’s a small difference, but sticking to “anyway” can help your speech or writing appear more structured and well-thought-out, signaling a good grasp of standard English.

To be honest with you

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Starting sentences with “to be honest with you” can make it seem like you’re only being honest in this instance, suggesting you might not always be truthful. This phrase is overused and can make people doubt your sincerity or trustworthiness. If you find yourself wanting to use this phrase, strongly consider whether it’s really necessary.

No offense, but…

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The phrase “No offense, but…” is commonly used as a preemptive apology before making a statement that could be considered offensive or insensitive. While it might be intended to soften the blow, it often has the opposite effect, making listeners defensive or wary. To avoid this mistake, it’s crucial to find ways to express your thoughts that don’t require such a disclaimer.

It’s a mute point

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“Moot point” refers to something that’s debatable or no longer relevant, whereas “mute” implies silence, which is incorrect in this context. To avoid this mistake, remember the correct phrase and its meaning. Understanding that a “moot point” is used to describe issues of no practical significance can help you use it appropriately in discussions.

Nip it in the butt

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Using “nip it in the butt” instead of the correct “nip it in the bud” is a humorous mistake that can change the tone of a conversation. The correct phrase, “nip it in the bud,” comes from gardening and means to stop something early before it grows or becomes a bigger problem.

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