Words That Make Us Self-Conscious When We Pronounce Them Correctly

List Rules
Vote up the words you're self-conscious about saying.

Somehow, we start out as babbling babies who can barely say “mama” and end up as articulate adults who toss around words like “enunciate.” 

But no matter how proud we are of our ever-growing vocabulary, sometimes expressing certain words in everyday conversation can make us really uncomfortable. Whether we're worried about butchering the pronunciation, sounding pretentious, using a term incorrectly, or bumbling too many syllables, we hesitate to say the word aloud. 

Here is a collection of some of the most common words we feel self-conscious about using in everyday language,


  • 1
    9 VOTES

    Halcyon

    Definition“Characterized by happiness, great success, and prosperity: golden. Often used to describe an idyllic time in the past that is remembered as better than today.”
    PronunciationHAL-see-uhn
    Use in a sentence: He recalled the halcyon days of his youth. 
    Why it makes us self-conscious: Describing a golden era from the past makes us sound as old and rusty as the yesteryear we're referring to.

  • Schadenfreude
    Photo: The Simpsons / Fox
    2
    17 VOTES

    Schadenfreude

    Definition“Enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.”
    PronunciationSHAH-dun-froy-duh
    Use in a sentence: Some viewers of reality TV shows feel a deep sense of schadenfreude watching contestants lose. 
    Why it makes us self-conscious: Schadenfreude is not a kind sentiment, so despite our “enjoyment,” at heart we're probably feeling a little guilty.

  • Gauche
    Photo: The Office / NBC
    3
    17 VOTES

    Gauche

    Definition“Lacking social experience or grace.”
    PronunciationGOWSH
    Use in a sentence: Dwight Schrute was always a little gauche around The Office. 
    Why it makes us self-conscious: As a word derived from French, “gauche” sounds more flamboyant than it is in reality.

  • Erudite
    Photo: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / Warner Bros.
    4
    23 VOTES

    Erudite

    Definition“Having or showing knowledge that is gained by studying: possessing or displaying erudition.”
    PronunciationAIR-uh-dite or AIR-yuh-dite 
    Use in a sentence: Hermione Granger is intelligent, but sometimes comes across as a bit pompous or erudite.
    Why it makes us self-conscious: Anyone who uses the word “erudite” is going to come across as “erudite.”