But what about your smarty-pants-know-it-all friends? They might be misusing at least 4 of them. And if you read this, you'll be more of a smarty-pants-know-it-all than they are.
1. Enervated and Energized.
True, both start with the letter "E", but that's where the similarities end.
Enervated and energized are opposites.
Take Owen, for example. He's enervated. He's deflated, tired, and worn out.
Berta, on the other hand, is energized.
Settle down, Berta.
2. Hoi polloi.
This term in no way refers to society's elite upper crust. On the contrary. Hoi polloi is a (condescending) term used to describe the lower class; the commoners; the great unwashed.
Florence, can you give us a sentence using hoi polloi?
That's real nice. Thanks, Florence.
If little Gilda bit Joe on the arm, and Joe barely noticed, some folks would describe Joe as being nonplussed.
But they'd be wrong– at least according to the accepted English usage definition:
1. So surprised and confused that one is unsure how to react.
To be nonplussed is to be astonished; exasperated; at a loss for words.
So... why do so many folks think nonplussed means the opposite of its real definition?
It started when people assumed the non in nonplussed was a negative prefix (it isn't), so it must mean opposite. (It doesn't). If they further assumed "plussed" was a word (it isn't) meaning "upset" (it doesn't) then nonplussed must mean calm and unperturbed.
Right or wrong, a whole heck of a lot of people started going in this direction. Eventually, the dictionaries had no choice but to add a second definition:
2. (North American,informal) Calm; not disconcerted; unperturbed; unfazed.
These days, mainly in the US, people use the word both ways. So which definition should you use?
Either one is okay, as long as you can live with the fact that the second definition isn't yet accepted as standard.
Joe, this time give us your best nonplussed, first definition.
Yup. That's the one.
4. Jive and Jibe.
Berta and Florence are very different people. You might say their personalities don't jive. But if you said that, you'd be guilty of a significant vocabulary blunder.
Jive is a style of dance that was popular in the 1940's.