Big Words to Use for Impressive Speaking & Writing

By , Staff Writer
Student giving speech to class
    student giving speech
    Hill Street Studios / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Whether you’re writing an essay or speaking in front of a group, there are certain big words you can use to impress your audience. Big words don’t actually have to be long; instead, they are precise and perfectly express what you’re trying to say. Before your next speech or paper, take a moment to familiarize yourself with these terms so you’ll be able to replace boring words with these much more interesting big words.

Big Words for Speeches and Debates

If you’re speaking in front of an audience or participating in a debate, take a moment to look at this word list. Substituting a big word gives your speech more power.

  • fundamentally - Instead of the often-overused “basically,” try “fundamentally.” You use it in exactly the same way, but it’s a stronger choice. It means getting to the core of something.

    Example: The idea that all people have the same chances in life is fundamentally unsound.

  • essential - Use “essential” instead of “important.” Technically, it’s not a longer word, but it’s bigger because it’s more powerful.

    Example: Art is an essential part of any school curriculum.

  • ingenious - Instead of saying something or someone is “smart,” say that person or things is “ingenious.” It’s a stronger statement of intelligence.

    Example: Henry Ford's implementation of the assembly line was nothing short of ingenious.

  • superior - Rather than saying something is “good” or “great,” call it superior. This means it’s the very best, and it is a strong word choice.

    Example: My proposal offers a superior solution to the problem of how to fairly divide new technology resources in the school.

  • examine - Instead of saying “talk about,” say “examine.” This implies that you’re looking more closely at the topic, and it’s a more impressive word.

    Example: Today, I plan to examine the role of grades in student success.

  • subsequently - Much better than “next,” this word indicates that one thing naturally flows from another. It’s a good transition word that is not overused.

    Example: Subsequently, the United States became allies with Great Britain and went on to have a long and friendly relationship.

Big Words for Academic Writing

Academic writing requires thoughtful word choice, and there are a few big words you can substitute for more common options.

  • demonstrate - Instead of saying “show,” say “demonstrate.” It’s a bigger word because it implies you’ll be personally showing something; it’s an active, powerful choice.

    Example: These results demonstrate that rats can be trained to push a lever if the reward is compelling.

  • unequivocally - Much stronger than its more common synonym “definitely,” this word means there’s no argument that can be made to disprove what you’re saying.

    Example: The results unequivocally indicate that fertilizer may help plants grow, but it can also contribute to pollution.

  • significant - “Significant” is a much more impressive word than “important.” It’s a good choice if you need to talk about a development or offer strong supporting evidence for something.

    Example: One significant result of women stepping into the workplace during World War II was a newfound financial independence.

  • plethora - Instead of saying there are lots of something, say there is a “plethora.” It’s a more impressive big word.

    Example: These claims are supported by a plethora of evidence.

  • beneficial - Anyone can use the word “good,” but if you want to try a bigger and more impressive alternative, use “beneficial.”

    Example: This proved to be a beneficial investment of time and money, and the company created many new products during this period.

  • immense - Don’t call something “big” in an academic paper. Instead, use the more impressive alternative: “immense.”

    Example: There were some immense problems with this approach.

Big Words for Creative Writing

Impressive creative writing relies on choosing the perfect word. It’s easy to use the same word repetitively, but there are bigger and better alternatives to try. Consider these:

  • exquisite - Instead of calling something “pretty,” describe it as “exquisite.” It’s a less common and much more powerful choice.

    Example: The tiara she wore that night was exquisite, sparkling with gems and polished metal.

  • enormous - The word “big” is practically a cliche with how often it is overused. Try “enormous” instead.

    Example: John helped himself to an enormous serving of scalloped potatoes.

  • diminutive - Similarly, don’t use the throw-away word “little.” Instead, try a more descriptive alternative like “diminutive.”

    Example: The mouse left diminutive footprints in the paint of the floor.

  • glimpsed - “Saw” is another word that carries almost no meaning because of overuse in creative writing. Instead, use “glimpsed.”

    Example: She glimpsed the house through the trees.

  • benevolent - A lot of things can be described as “nice” or “good,” but those words are boring. Try “benevolent” instead.

    Example: The king was a benevolent leader.

  • despicable - If you’re describing a villain or something else that is bad or evil, use “despicable.” This big word is more creative.

    Example: He did many despicable things in the name of science.

Replace Common Words in Any Situation

Whether you’re speaking or writing, make an effort to replace common words with more descriptive alternatives. Take a look at words you can use instead of “some” and other choices to try instead of “very.” Simply swapping out the common words will make your writing more impressive.

Impress With a Great Vocabulary

If you want to expand your vocabulary, review a list of words to use if you want to sound smart. Add these to your speeches and essays as well, and you’ll be impressing everyone from teachers to friends.