7 Common Words That You Are Using Incorrectly

Odds are that you use these phrases every day

Shourya Agarwal
4 min readDec 4, 2020


Source: Pexels

As a non-native English speaker, I hardly spend a day without being bumped by the language. I am all too familiar with the embarrassment of being called out for using a word that didn’t mean what I thought it meant. Most of the time it gnaws at my confidence at others I can’t help but laugh at the confusion conjured by just a syllable out of place. Over the years, I have come to realize that this malapropism is not just limited to language learners. In fact, with the near-maddening mutations in the language on the internet, native speakers are just as likely to get duped into incorrect usage. As the perennial grin of the ‘grammarista’ is unsparingly humiliating, its high time all of us steer clear of getting hoodwinked by these seven


Poisonous(ad): (of a substance or plant) causing or capable of causing death or illness if taken into the body.

Usually, we use this one interchangeably with venomous to signify anything that contains toxins. But, it turns out that both linguists and biologists see a thick line that separates poisonous from venomous. It turns out that poisonous only works if the agent transmits its toxin when we eat it. So, an apple can be poisonous just like a well can be. However, creatures like snakes and wasps are not poisonous because they actively inject their toxins into their prey. Therefore, for the sake of correctness, they should be called ‘venomous’. Although the distinction is extremely technical, it is enough to make a biologist buddy momentarily second-guess dining with you when you tell them about your encounter with a ‘poisonous’ snake.


Utilize(v): to turn to practical use

For most of us utilize is just a polished substitute for ‘use’. However, that’s simply not the case. Utilize implies putting something in use which was useless before, like how the body utilizes carbohydrates. In a sense, utilize means ‘convert to use’ rather than to simply make use of. Vapingo believes that not knowing the distinction between use and utilize is the most grammatical mix-up mistake people make all over the world. I guess the world could definitely use your help in ensuring that…



Shourya Agarwal

A bewildered star gazer drifting from distortion to discovery.