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6 words that don't mean what you think they mean

Last updated on: June 03, 2015 12:03 IST

How guilty are you? Let's find out!

1. Awesome

Neil Patrick Harris's character Barney Stinson is perhaps singularly responsible for the misuse of this word.

More often than not, awesome is used interchangeably with 'excellent' or 'great'.

Eg. X: I've completed the assignment

Y: Awesome


What 'awesome' means: something that inspires awe or an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear.

2. Literally

It is amazing how often we say 'literally' when we mean something figuratively, its exact opposite.

For eg. When Katrina Kaif sat next to me I could have literally died.

Now this would've been perfect if Katrina Kaif was, let's say, infected with a deadly virus capable of killing anyone she sat next to.

Except, the last time we checked, she isn't. :-)

When you say literally, you mean something that is word for word.

Eg. When he heard the story, he literally fell off the chair laughing!

3. Anniversary

Some of us just look for reasons to celebrate... stuff like our five-month anniversary of our first date... don't we?

The thing about anniversary is that it comes once a year. Quite like your birthday!

An anniversary is when you celebrate or commemorate an event that occurred on the very same date and month.

So you celebrate your first wedding anniversary or the third anniversary of someone's death.

Just like you don't celebrate your 'three-month birthday' you also don't celebrate your 'three-month anniversary'.

Though we suppose if you are one of those who love celebrations, you'll find a reason to pop the champagne anyway. :-)

4. Travesty

Here's another oft-misused word.

What most of us think it means: a tragedy, an unfortunate event

What it actually means: a mockery or a parody

You could argue that Salman Khan being granted bail was a travesty of justice.

But to say that his running over a group of homeless people was travesty would be, well, murder of the English language.

5. Irony

The Oxford English dictionary defines irony as 'a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result'.

For eg. It was ironic for Tony Stark to think that Ultron would protect the world from destruction.

What we often think it means: a funny coincidence

For eg. Isn't it ironic that we should meet Amitabh Bachchan in an elevator just after having spoken about him at dinner?

The answer to that question is no :-)

Though it would be a wonderful coincidence.

6. Ultimate

It is fitting that we end this list with 'ultimate'.

What most of us think it means: The best

What it really means: The last item on a list :-)

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