I generally don’t use words that I don’t know what mean–I learned that lesson when trying out new cuss words and phrases on my older brother. Tip: Don’t call your sibling a son of a bitch. Your mother will not appreciate it.
For staying on the safe side, I recommend consulting a dictionary before using words you’re unsure about the meaning of.
(There’s an app for that.)
Here are a few words I’ve heard being misused lately:
Socialism and Socialist
As in “Obama is a Socialist!” and “Socialism isn’t American!”
If you can’t define socialism with more than what it isn’t, don’t use the term.
Another tip: Don’t take political advice from bumper stickers.
As in “That guy must be bipolar or something,” or “I really think my boss is bipolar, ’cause she’s nice to everyone but me.”
Just because someone was nice to you one day and an asshole the next doesn’t mean he’s bipolar.
And maybe your boss likes everyone else and thinks you suck.
Ironic (I’ve talked a little about this one before)
“It’s ironic that I bumped into my sister after thinking about her.”
No, it’s not. That’s called a coincidence.
If you were thinking about how much you hated your sister and bumped into her at a “I Hate My Sister” conference, that would be ironic. And a little weird.
As in “The Rapture is happening on May 21st!”
It would seem that Harold Camping is neither a master of mathematics or the English language.
No example for this one, as it’s rather sensitive. It just seems like way too many people ignore the fact that there are more than 20 countries south of the United States.
Irregardless (Honorable Mention)
As in “People insist on using this word, irregardless of the fact that it’s not a word.”