11 Popular English Words We Use Incorrectly


Businessmen talking

Do you know that there are some words we use incorrectly and we don’t even know about it until today? Some of these words, you have used it incorrectly all your life that if you read about it now on this post, you would become embarrassed. These particular words actually mean the opposite of what we thought they mean to us, but they sound like they are not.

Let’s look through these eleven words many of us might have been using incorrectly all our life and we have to get it right once and for all:


1. Bogus (adjective): This word does not mean “big or massive” or anything relating to size. It actually means “not genuine or true”, “illegal”, “counterfeit”, etc.


i. Tammy delivered some bogus documents to back up his claim, but he ended up not been able to defend himself.

ii. I didn’t pay him because that estimate was quite bogus.


2. Dupe (verb or noun): The way we use the noun form of this word is the problem. A person who dupes people is not someone who deceives or cheats people. A dupe is the real victim of deception. Do you understand?


i. He was acting smart until he became the dupe.

ii. When I realized I was a dupe, I wept uncontrollably.

3. Terrific (adjective): This word is not the synonym for the words “terrible” or “terrifying”, but it means “great”, “very good”, “tremendous”, etc. It formerly meant “to cause terror” in the old days.


i. I had a terrific feeling at the audition.

ii. He had a terrific performance at the dance competition.


4. Double date (noun)/double-date (verb): Many people believe this compound word simply means “infidelity” or “to have more than one love/date partner”. The actual meaning of this word is “a situation where two couples (say your friend and his/her love partner together with you and your love partner) go out on a date” or “to take part in such a date”.


i. Tammy and Kenny are coming over to the bar, so it’s a double-date.

ii. We have been friends with them for many years: we’ve even been double-dating since college.


5. Restive (adjective): If you think this word has anything to do with “resting”, then you’re wrong. It actually means the opposite of that. When one is restive, then he or she is “unable to stay calm or still” or “unwilling to be controlled”.



i. She was so hurt that she remained restive throughout the party.

ii. Let’s calm the restive ones before the issue escalates beyond control.


6. Talkative (adjective): I have also been using this word incorrectly. The word “talkative” isn’t a noun, so it is wrong to say Ibrahim is a talkative. It is an adjective which means “fond of talking a lot”.


i. Curry is not very talkative.

ii. She was so in a talkative mood the last time we met.


7. Impeach (verb): This word is one of the most used words in our political climate and in public service. In the US, to impeach someone means “to charge a public office holder to court for a serious crime”, such as fraud; while in British English, it means “to charge someone to court for treason or another heavy crime against the state”. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean the persons charged had been removed from office. This word can also mean to “to question the validity of a practice”.



i. He was impeached for dereliction of duty.

ii. The head of the department was impeached for not supporting the fight against corruption.

iii. I think Nigerians should impeach the immunity clause for serving governors in Nigeria.


8. Blood money (noun): The money received from rituals after murdering someone? No! This term means “money paid to assassins to kill someone”, “money paid to the family of a murdered person”, or “money paid to someone who provided information about a killer”.



i. Barack was a popular local informant who got rich through blood money.

ii. Courtney received the blood money from the government.


9. Lousy (adjective): This word is often thought to mean “loud” or “noisy”, but it means “very bad”, “very poor’, “unpleasant”, etc.



i. We had a lousy weekend.

ii. Mr. Trump is such a lousy person.


10. Borrow (verb): This word should not have been included in this list, but its meaning remains unclear to some people. Borrow means “to take or receive something from someone and it is expected to be returned”. Borrow is to take, that is it has to come from someone or somewhere else.



i. Can I borrow some money from you?

ii. She borrowed my jacket but won’t return it – isn’t that unfair?


11. Lend: We all mix up this word with “borrow”. Lend means to “give out something to someone, which is expected to be to be returned”. The words ‘borrow’ and ‘lend’ are reciprocal pairs similar to give/take, teach/learn, open/close, etc. that shows both sides of a situation.



I. I can’t lend you any more money.

II. She begged me to lend him that jacket after he borrowed my bag.


Never forget, borrow ‘comes in’, and lend ‘goes out’. You lend someone something by giving it to them; they borrow it by taking it.


In conclusion, these are some popular eleven words we use incorrectly in our everyday conversation, but I hope they are all clear now. We should learn to get rid of common mistakes in our day-to-day use of the English Language.

What do you think and which one do you use often?

Courtesy: rapportnaija.com


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