300 Smart Words for Journalists


Being in line with a work where choice of words matter, Journalists should know how to manipulate their way around constructing sentences. Smart words are not necessarily pre-requisites in efficient writing, but it would not hurt to have some in one’s pocket. Although smart words are not necessarily highfalutin, it should still be considered that its usage should not compromise the idea of the write-up and your tone as a writer. Here are some examples of smart words and phrases one should use:

  1. Abate – cause to become smaller or lessen intensity or widespread
  2. Aberrant – Deviating from what is considered proper, normal or typical
  3. Abeyance – temporary inactivity, cessation, or suspension
  4. Abscond- to depart in a sudden and secret manner, especially to avoid capture and legal prosecution
  5. Abstemious – not self-indulgent, especially when eating and drinking
  6. Admonish – warn or reprimand someone firmly
  7. Adulterate – render something poorer in quality by adding another substance, typically an inferior one
  8. Aesthetic – concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty
  9. Aggregate – a whole formed by combining several (typically disparate) elements
  10. Alacrity – brisk and cheerful readiness
  11. Alleviate – make less severe
  12. Amalgamate – combine or unite to form one organization or structure
  13. Ambiguous – unclear or inexact
  14. Ambivalence – the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone
  15. Ameliorate – make better
  16. Anachronism – a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned
  17. Analogous – comparable in certain respects
  18. Anomalous – deviating from what is standard, normal, or expected
  19. Antipathy – a deep-seated feeling of dislike
  20. Apathy – lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern
  21. Antipathy – a deep-seated feeling of dislike
  22. Appease – pacify or relieve or prevent from happening
  23. Apprise – inform or tell someone
  24. Approbation – approval or praise
  25. Appropriate – suitable or proper in the circumstances (noun); designate (verb)
  26. Arduous – requiring much effort
  27. Artless – without guile or deception or effort
  28. Ascetic – a person who practices severe self-discipline and abstention.
  29. Assiduous – showing great care and perseverance
  30. Assuage – make an unpleasant feeling less intense
  31. Attenuate – reduce the force, effect, or value of
  32. Audacious – showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks
  33. Austere – severe or strict in manner
  34. Autonomous – acting independently
  35. Aver – state or assert to be the case
  36. Banal – so lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring
  37. Belie – fail to give a true notion or impression of
  38. Beneficent – generous or doing good
  39. Bolster – support or strengthen
  40. Bombastic – high-sounding but with little meaning
  41. Boorish – rough and bad-mannered
  42. Burgeon – begin to grow or increase rapidly
  43. Burnish – polish by rubbing
  44. Buttress – increase the strength of or justification for
  45. Cacophonous – involving or producing a harsh
  46. Capricious – given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior
  47. Castigation – reprimand (someone) severely
  48. Catalyst – a person or thing that precipitates an event
  49. Caustic – sarcastic in a scathing and bitter way
  50. Chicanery – the use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose
  51. Coagulate – change to a solid or semisolid state
  52. Coda-the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.
  53. Cogent- (of an argument or case) clear, logical, and convincing.
  54. Commensurate- corresponding in size or degree; in proportion
  55. Compendium- a collection of concise but detailed information about a particular subject, especially in a book or other publication.
  56. Complaisant- willing to please others; obliging; agreeable
  57. Compliant- inclined to agree with others or obey rules, especially to an excessive degree
  58. Conciliatory- intended or likely to placate or pacify
  59. Condone- accept and allow (behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive) to continue
  60. Confound-cause surprise or confusion in (someone), especially by acting against their expectations
  61. Connoisseur- an expert judge in matters of taste
  62. Cumbersome- large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry or use; unwieldy
  63. Debilitate- make (someone) weak and infirm
  64. Decorum- behavior in keeping with good taste and propriety
  65. Deduce- arrive at (a fact or a conclusion) by reasoning; draw as a logical conclusion
  66. Déjà vu- a feeling of having already experienced the present situation
  67. Deify- worship, regard, or treat (someone or something) as a god
  68. Delectable- (of food or drink) delicious
  69. Demure- (of a woman or her behavior) reserved, modest, and shy
  70. Deplorable- deserving strong condemnation
  71. Dialectic- the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions.
  72. Dichotomy- a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different
  73. Eclectic- deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources
  74. Eccentric- (of a person or their behavior) unconventional and slightly strange
  75. Elicit- evoke or draw out (a response, answer, or fact) from someone in reaction to one’s own actions or questions
  76. Elusive- difficult to find, catch, or achieve
  77. Emanate- (of something abstract but perceptible) issue or spread out from (a source)
  78. Enigmatic- difficult to interpret or understand; mysterious
  79. En masse- in a group; all together
  80. Endemic- (of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area
  81. Eradicate- destroy completely; put an end to
  82. Evasive- tending to avoid commitment or self-revelation, especially by responding only indirectly
  83. Faux Pas- an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.
  84. Fiasco- a thing that is a complete failure, especially in a ludicrous or humiliating way
  85. Futility- pointlessness or uselessness
  86. Fortuitous- happening by accident or chance rather than design
  87. Formidable- inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable
  88. Fractious- (typically of children) irritable and quarrelsome
  89. Funereal- having the mournful, somber character appropriate to a funeral
  90. Fledging- (of a young bird) develop wing feathers that are large enough for flight.
  91. Fidelity- faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support
  92. Flippant- not showing a serious or respectful attitude
  93. Galvanize- shock or excite (someone), typically into taking action
  94. Gamut- the complete range or scope of something
  95. Gargantuan- enormous
  96. Globular- globe-shaped; spherical.
  97. Gormandize- indulge in good eating; eat greedily.
  98. Grandeur- splendor and impressiveness, especially of appearance or style
  99. Gradation- a scale or a series of successive changes, stages, or degrees
  100. Gregarious- (of a person) fond of company; sociable

Gratuitous- uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted

  1. Halcyon- denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful
  2. Haphazard- lacking any obvious principle of organization
  3. Hapless- (especially of a person) unfortunate
  4. Herculean- requiring great strength or effort
  5. Hiatus- a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process
  6. Ignoble- not honorable in character or purpose
  7. Ignominious- deserving or causing public disgrace or shame
  8. Illicit- forbidden by law, rules, or custom
  9. Impasse- a situation in which no progress is possible, especially because of disagreement; a deadlock
  10. Impertinent- not showing proper respect; rude
  11. Jocular- fond of or characterized by joking; humorous or playful
  12. Jettison- throw or drop (something) from an aircraft or ship
  13. Jejune- naive, simplistic, and superficial
  14. Juxtapose- place or deal with close together for contrasting effect
  15. Jingoistic- extreme patriotism, especially in the form of aggressive or warlike foreign policy
  16. Kibosh- put an end to; dispose of decisively
  17. Kinetic- of, relating to, or resulting from motion
  18. Kudos- praise and honor received for an achievement.
  19. Keynote- a prevailing tone or central theme, typically one set or introduced at the start of a conference
  20. Kinesiology- the study of the mechanics of body movements.
  21. Laconic- (of a person, speech, or style of writing) using very few words
  22. Laggard- a person who makes slow progress and falls behind others
  23. Lascivious- (of a person, manner, or gesture) feeling or revealing an overt and often offensive sexual desire
  24. Latent- (of a quality or state) existing but not yet developed or manifest; hidden; concealed
  25. Lethargic- affected by lethargy; sluggish and apathetic
  26. Levity- humor or frivolity, especially the treatment of a serious matter with humor or in a manner lacking due respect
  27. Liaison- communication or cooperation that facilitates a close working relationship between people or organizations
  28. Loquacious- tending to talk a great deal; talkative.
  29. Ludicrous- so foolish, unreasonable, or out of place as to be amusing; ridiculous
  30. Lucid- expressed clearly; easy to understand
  31. Malignant- (of a disease) very virulent or infectious.
  32. Maniacal- a person exhibiting extreme symptoms of wild behavior, especially when violent and dangerous
  33. Masticate- chew (food).
  34. Maverick- an unorthodox or independent-minded person
  35. Mawkish- sentimental in a feeble or sickly way
  36. Megalomania- obsession with the exercise of power, especially in the domination of others.
  37. Mendacious- not telling the truth; lying
  38. Mesmerize- hold the attention of (someone) to the exclusion of all else or so as to transfix them
  39. Misconstrue- interpret (something, especially a person’s words or actions) wrongly
  40. Mnemonic- a device such as a pattern of letters, ideas, or associations that assists in remembering something.
  41. Narcissistic- having an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance
  42. Narcolepsy- a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep whenever in relaxing surroundings.
  43. Nascent- (especially of a process or organization) just coming into existence and beginning to display signs of future potential
  44. Nefarious- (typically of an action or activity) wicked or criminal
  45. Ne plus ultra- the perfect or most extreme example of its kind; the ultimate
  46. Noblesse Oblige- the nobility.
  47. Nocturnal- done, occurring, or active at night
  48. Nom de guerre- an assumed name under which a person engages in combat or some other activity or enterprise.
  49. Nonchalance- the state of being nonchalant
  50. Non sequitur- a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.
  51. Oblivious- not aware of or not concerned about what is happening around one
  52. Obsequious- obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree
  53. Obsolete- no longer produced or used; out of date
  54. Onus- used to refer to something that is one’s duty or responsibility
  55. Optimal- best or most favorable; optimum
  56. Opus- any artistic work, especially one on a large scale
  57. Onerous- (of a task, duty, or responsibility) involving an amount of effort and difficulty that is oppressively burdensome
  58. Ostensibly- apparently or purportedly, but perhaps not actually
  59. Ostracize- exclude (someone) from a society or group
  60. Onomatopoeia- the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named
  61. Pacify- quell the anger, agitation, or excitement of
  62. Pandemic- (of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world.
  63. Paradigm- a typical example or pattern of something; a model
  64. Paragon- a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality
  65. Paroxysm- a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity
  66. Paucity- the presence of something only in small or insufficient quantities or amounts; scarcity
  67. Peccadillo- a small, relatively unimportant offense or sin.
  68. Pedantic- of or like a pedant
  69. Penultimate- last but one in a series of things; second to the last
  70. Perennial- lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring
  71. Perpetuate- make (something, typically an undesirable situation or an unfounded belief) continue indefinitely
  72. Peruse- read (something), typically in a thorough or careful way
  73. Pervasive- (especially of an unwelcome influence or physical effect) spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people
  74. Picayune- petty; worthless
  75. Pinnacle- the most successful point; the culmination
  76. Placid- (of a person or animal) not easily upset or excited
  77. Platonic- (of love or friendship) intimate and affectionate but not sexual
  78. Plethora- a large or excessive amount of (something)
  79. Polarize- divide or cause to divide into two sharply contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs
  80. Polemics- a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something
  81. Portend- be a sign or warning that (something, especially something momentous or calamitous) is likely to happen
  82. Posit- assume as a fact; put forward as a basis of argument
  83. Potable safe to drink; drinkable
  84. Pragmatic- dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations
  85. Precarious- not securely held or in position; dangerously likely to fall or collapse
  86. Precedent- an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances
  87. Precocious- (of a child) having developed certain abilities or proclivities at an earlier age than usual
  88. Preemptive- serving or intended to preempt or forestall something, especially to prevent attack by disabling the enemy
  89. Pretense- an attempt to make something that is not the case appear true
  90. Primordial- existing at or from the beginning of time; primeval
  91. Pristine- in its original condition; unspoiled
  92. Prodigal- spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant
  93. Procrastinate- delay or postpone action; put off doing something
  94. Proliferate- increase rapidly in numbers; multiply
  95. Promiscuity- the fact or state of being promiscuous
  96. Protégé- p a person who is guided and supported by an older and more experienced or influential person
  97. Protocol- the official procedure or system of rules governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions
  98. Proverbial- (of a word or phrase) referred to in a proverb or idiom
  99. Prudent- acting with or showing care and thought for the future
  100. Pulchritude- beauty
  101. Raconteur- r a person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way
  102. Raillery- good-humored teasing
  103. Raiment- clothing
  104. Raison d’être- r the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence
  105. Rambunctious- uncontrollably exuberant; boisterous.
  106. Ramification- a consequence of an action or event, especially when complex or unwelcome
  107. Rancor- r bitterness or resentfulness, especially when long-standing
  108. Rapacity- aggressive greed
  109. Rapprochement- (especially in international relations) an establishment or resumption of harmonious relations
  110. Ratiocinate- form judgments by a process of logic
  111. Recalcitrant- having an obstinately uncooperative attitude toward authority or discipline
  112. Recant- say that one no longer holds an opinion or belief, especially one considered heretical
  113. Recapitulate- summarize and state again the main points of
  114. Reciprocity- the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another.
  115. Recriminate- make counteraccusations
  116. Rectitude- morally correct behavior or thinking; righteousness
  117. Redact- edit (text) for publication.
  118. Redolent- strongly reminiscent or suggestive of (something)
  119. Reflexive- denoting a pronoun that refers back to the subject of the clause in which it is used
  120. Rejoinder- a reply, especially a sharp or witty one
  121. Salacious- treating sexual matters in an indecent way and typically conveying undue interest in or enjoyment of the subject
  122. Salient- most noticeable or important
  123. Salubrious- health-giving; healthy
  124. Sangfroid- composure or coolness, sometimes excessive, as shown in danger or under trying circumstances
  125. Sapient- wise, or attempting to appear wise
  126. Sardonic- grimly mocking or cynical
  127. Sartorial- of or relating to tailoring, clothes, or style of dress
  128. Satiety- the feeling or state of being sated.
  129. Saturnine- slow and gloomy
  130. Satyr- a man who has strong sexual desires.
  131. Savoir faire- the ability to act or speak appropriately in social situations.
  132. Scintilla- a tiny trace or spark of a specified quality or feeling
  133. Scion- a descendant of a notable family
  134. Secular- denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis
  135. Sedentary- tending to spend much time seated; somewhat inactive
  136. Serendipity- the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way
  137. Sinecure- a position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.
  138. Sojourn- a temporary stay
  139. Spurious- not being what it purports to be; false or fake
  140. Supercilious- behaving or looking as though one thinks one is superior to others
  141. Tabula Rasa- an absence of preconceived ideas or predetermined goals; a clean slate
  142. Taciturn- (of a person) reserved or uncommunicative in speech; saying little.
  143. Tangential- of, relating to, or along a tangent
  144. Tantamount- equivalent in seriousness to; virtually the same as
  145. Tautology- the saying of the same thing twice in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style
  146. Teleological- the explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes
  147. Temerity- excessive confidence or boldness; audacity
  148. Temper- a person’s state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm
  149. Tempestuous- characterized by strong and turbulent or conflicting emotion
  150. Tenet- a principle or belief, especially one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy
  151. Tendentious- expressing or intending to promote a particular cause or point of view, especially a controversial one
  152. Tenacious- tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely
  153. Tete-a-tete- a private conversation between two people
  154. Thaumaturge- a worker of wonders and performer of miracles; a magician
  155. Titular- holding or constituting a purely formal position or title without any real authority
  156. Toothsome- temptingly tasty
  157. Tractable- easy to control or influence
  158. Transient- lasting only for a short time; impermanent
  159. Tryst- a private, romantic rendezvous between lovers
  160. Tumid- swollen
  161. Ubiquitous- present, appearing, or found everywhere
  162. Umbrage- offense or annoyance
  163. Unassuming- not pretentious or arrogant; modest
  164. Unbridled- uncontrolled; unconstrained
  165. Unceremonious- having or showing a lack of courtesy; rough or abrupt
  166. Unctuous- excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; oily
  167. Ungainly- awkward; clumsy
  168. Unilateral- performed by or affecting only one person, group, or country involved in a particular situation, without the agreement of another or the others
  169. Unimpeachable- not able to be doubted, questioned, or criticized; entirely trustworthy
  170. Unsavory- disagreeable to taste, smell, or look at.
  171. Vacuous- having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless
  172. Vagary- an unexpected and inexplicable change in a situation or in someone’s behavior
  173. Vainglorious- inordinate pride in oneself or one’s achievements; excessive vanity.
  174. Vapid- offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging
  175. Vanguard- a group of people leading the way in new developments or ideas
  176. Vehement- showing strong feeling; forceful, passionate, or intense
  177. Venal- showing or motivated by susceptibility to bribery
  178. Venial- denoting a sin that is not regarded as depriving the soul of divine grace. Often contrasted with mortal
  179. Veracity- conformity to facts; accuracy
  180. Verdant- green with grass or other rich vegetation.
  181. Vers libre- another term for free verse
  182. Vignette- a brief evocative description, account, or episode.
  183. Vociferous- (especially of a person or speech) vehement or clamorous
  184. Wanderlust- a strong desire to travel
  185. Wane- (of the moon) have a progressively smaller part of its visible surface illuminated, so that it appears to decrease in size.
  186. Wanton- (of a cruel or violent action) deliberate and unprovoked
  187. Watershed- an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas.
  188. Wayfaring- (of a person) traveling on foot
  189. Weltschmerz- a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness.
  190. Wherewithal- the money or other means needed for a particular purpose
  191. Xanadu- an idealized place of great or idyllic magnificence and beauty
  192. Xenophile- an individual who is attracted to foreign peoples, manners, or cultures.
  193. Yahoo- a rude, noisy, or violent person.
  194. Xenophobic- having or showing an intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries
  195. Yawnful- causing or arousing yawns, especially as the result of boredom, tedium, or the like
  196. Za-zen- meditation in a prescribed, cross-legged posture.
  197. Zeitgeist-the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time
  198. Zest- great enthusiasm and energy
  199. Zenith- the highest point reached by a celestial or other object
  200. Yammer- loud and sustained or repetitive noise

Sources: New Oxford American Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary (MAC OSX/Android)


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