What is the proper term for a person who uses words incorrectly, hoping to impress others?

  • ummm, if they use the words incorrectly, how is that impressing others? Nov 27, 2013 at 19:55
  • 1
    "trying too hard"?
    – Mitch
    Nov 27, 2013 at 20:00
  • 1
    Related, but not a complete match is english.stackexchange.com/q/102443/15770 because attempting to impress is a common reason for being hypercorrect.
    – Jon Hanna
    Nov 27, 2013 at 22:58
  • @KristinaLopez might want to try that again, hah
    – Dodgie
    Nov 28, 2013 at 2:45

4 Answers 4


Pretentious is a good word to describe such a person. I don't know of a word that specifically refers to using words in this way. You could say "verbally pretentious".


wikipedia has bushism, but I think you are looking for something like

The person suffers from

  • 1
    Definitely Bushism!
    – Rory Alsop
    Nov 27, 2013 at 21:40

If the speaker were female, Mrs. Malaprop was a fictional character who used words incorrectly and the source of the word malapropism. If the speaker were male, calling him Dogberry is a less known, but parallel fictional character, who used malapropisms.

It seems that both Mrs. Malaprop and Dogberry were trying to impress their hearers, but came up with a wrong word with humorous effect.

Anyone engaging in illegal financial transactions will be caught and persecuted.

(He meant prosecuted.) -George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Sept. 19, 2008

The reforms we seek would bring greater competition, choice, savings and inefficiencies to our health care system.

(He probably meant efficiencies. This is more of a Freudian Slip, and less a malapropism.) —Barack Obama, in remarks after a health care roundtable with physicians, nurses and health care providers, Washington, D.C., July 20, 2009


How about pseudo-intellectual?

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