I don't know how else to phrase this, but my Literature teacher, when speaking, uses words that make him look wiser or more mature. Instead of saying everyday phrases, he replaces them with more elegant terms.

For example,

  • "perhaps" replaces "maybe"
  • "rather" replaces "kind of"
  • "in reality" replaces "actually"
  • "in the sense that" or "to the extent to which" replaces "just as" or "like"
  • "I suppose" replaces "I guess"

These phrases/words that he uses aren't sophisticated I guess, but they deviate from everyday lingo you hear. Does anyone know what these replacements, the classy diction he uses, are called?

  • 1
    For the teacher using words that come naturally in everyday vocabulary, that is a good fit. For the English learner, the same fancy words sound pretentious - pretending to be like a professor, but really looking foolish. Trust me, keep it simple to sound your best. Feb 6, 2020 at 22:43
  • There is "formal" vs "informal".
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 6, 2020 at 22:57
  • in reality may be a sign that your teacher's native language uses actual in a sense incompatible with the current English sense. rather, in the sense that and to the extent to which are more precise than what they replace, though without context I cannot say for sure that your professor uses them correctly; they may be false-elegant like the common vague usage of in terms of. Mar 8, 2020 at 3:03

1 Answer 1


Your teacher is a wordsmith. Verb: A skilled user of words.

A person who uses (as your question states), 'words or phrases that make you sound wiser', would typically be referred to as, 'having good vocabulary'.

Some people just seem to have the right word at the right time without having to actually think about it.

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