Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey give you permission to not follow the dictionary when it comes to three keywords in the English language.

Listen in as they discuss why you shouldn’t memorize words in the dictionary and use them in your English conversations.

Information in Wikipedia

Aubrey shares that she goes to Wikipedia to look up random facts and updated information.

Lindsay shares that she didn’t know that you could edit the information in Wikipedia when she was in college.

Aubrey adds that she used to do edits on articles way back when she worked as a receptionist.

She would have free time and she would just correct information on the Wikipedia page or add more details to it.

Lindsay asked Aubrey if there was a process before to verify the data she was inputting into the Wikipedia page.

Aubrey answered no.

She would freely edit the page and save and it would update in real-time.

This was 15 to 20 years ago and they are hoping that Wikipedia has come a long way and there should be a process to ensure that information placed on the website is accurate.

Lindsay mentions that this is one of the scariest dangers of information technology nowadays.

Information is so accessible to anyone anywhere that it is easy to spread wrong information around.

This is why you still have to take everything you see on the Internet with a grain of salt and not fully accept something without reputable data.

Don’t Memorize

In relation to this discussion, Aubrey mentions that today’s episode will help you understand that there are words in the Dictionary you may be using incorrectly.

This is because you might end up using words differently compared to native English speakers.

Lindsay advises against memorizing words in a dictionary and then trying to use them in a conversation.

Some words may not sound natural so you have to be careful.

In a previous episode, the All Ears English team shared that language is constantly evolving.

To adapt to these changes, dictionaries are updated to reflect the common usage of words.

You can check out more about this topic in episode AEE 1705: Cambridge English Dictionary’s #1 Word of 2021 and Why We Like It.

Three Words Defined and Used Differently

In today’s episode, Lindsay and Aubrey talk about words that have been updated.

There are words that the dictionary gives their archaic definition.

Lindsay and Aubrey will help you identify them and share what the meaning is based on how natives use them.

Below are three words defined differently in the dictionary and how native English speakers commonly use them.

There is also a comparison between the incorrect and correct ways of using the word.

  • Terrific

In the dictionary, the word terrific is defined as something that causes terror or something that inspires fear.

This is an archaic definition.

It is derived from the Latin root similar to “terror.”

The definition is very different to how it is used by native English speakers.

Terrific is used to describe something wonderful or a very good experience.

Incorrect: This ice cream is terrific!

Correct: King Kong is terrific.

Bemused

In the dictionary, the word bemused is defined as being bewildered or confused.

This is an example of a word that native English speakers use incorrectly often. This is because it is a formal way of saying you are at a loss or confused by something.

You hear scholars or academics use this often.

In regular English conversations, you don’t need to use this. But if you want to elevate your vocabulary, you can use this when expressing a story.

You can also use bemused sarcastically in informal situations.

Incorrect: I was bemused by the play because it was so funny!

Correct: I was bemused by the play because it was confusing.

Enormity

In the dictionary, enormity describes something that is outrageous or heinous.

This word has a negative connotation.

This is often used to describe a heinous character or atrocious happenings.

But native English speakers often use this to describe something as huge or enormous.

Incorrect: The enormity of this elephant.

Correct: The enormity of these crimes.

Roleplay

Here is a quick roleplay by Lindsay and Aubrey to help you better understand how to use the words mentioned here.

The scenario is that Lindsay and Aubrey are at a baseball game.

Aubrey: This game is terrific! So much action!

Lindsay: For sure. There’s nothing worse than a no-hitter.

Aubrey: I sat through a no-hitter once. The enormity of my boredom was indescribable.

Lindsay: I’d feel the same. I’m never bemused by sports when not much is happening.

Takeaway

The key takeaway for this episode is don’t hesitate to get out of your comfort zone and break free from the dictionary and textbooks.

For you to communicate more like a native English speaker you have to learn how they actually use the language.

You can’t always trust the dictionary because language is always evolving.

Lindsay and Aubrey encourage you to learn in the real world.

Listen to podcasts, YouTube videos, and news segments that show you how English is used in everyday life.

Native English speakers make mistakes and get confused too, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes yourself.

What words do you often hear native English speakers use?

Share it in the comments down below.

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