What you think it means: Something that is funny.
What it really means: Contrary to what you are expecting.
This is a famous one because so many people get this wrong so often. It’s also kind of hard to explain, so we’ll use an example. The Titanic was boasted about as being 100% unsinkable and then in 1912 it was sunk anyway. That is what is called cosmic irony. When a starving vegetarian eats a pepperoni pizza, that is what is called situational irony.
There are other kinds too, such as dramatic irony and Socratic irony. Believe it or not, sarcasm is actually irony. When you say something sarcastically, your tone and your words mean two opposite things. That is ironic. Irony can be funny but not everything funny is irony.
当然还有其他分类，比 如“喜剧式反讽”和“苏格拉底式反讽”。不管你信不信，irony其实和sarcasm(讽刺)是一个意思。当说到某件事很讽刺时，你的语调和用词意在表 达完全相反的两种情况。这就是ironic(反讽)。反讽可以是滑稽的，但并不是所有滑稽的事都可以称得上“反讽”。
What you think it means: A tragedy or something unfortunate.
What it really means: A mockery or parody.
This is another one that people have wrong fairly frequently. You’ve heard people call 9/11 a travesty. Truth be told 9/11 was a tragedy. A travesty is actually a mockery or a parody. One might say that a Weird Al Yankovic album is a travesty. With how often this word is associated with tragedy, we wouldn’t be shocked if that definition were eventually added as an acceptable meaning. Until then, it doesn’t mean anything bad happened.
这也是人们经常用错的一个单词。有人把9.11事件说成travesty，其实他是想说是个 tragedy(悲剧)。Travesty其实是指拙劣的模仿或恶搞。你可以说艾尔•扬科维奇的专辑是travesty(恶搞的)。鉴于travesty 这个单词总是被人们和tragedy(悲剧)搞混淆，或许以后travesty里面也能加入“悲剧”的含义吧。不过到目前为止，这个单词跟“不好的事情” 完全扯不上关系。
What you think it means: The one, the only. The best.
What it really means: The last item of a list.
Some people do actually use this one properly. You may see someone list off a bunch of things and hear them say, “Okay, at the store we need eggs, milk, juice, and ultimately, butter.” That is actually the proper use of ultimate. There is no other context or added context. It simply means the last one.
确 实也有人能够正确使用这个单词。你或许看到过别人写出一串列单，然后听到他们说：“嗯……我们要去商店买点鸡蛋、牛奶、果汁，最后 (ultimately)还有黄油。”这才是ultimate的正确使用方法。这里不存在其他内容或补充内容，ultimate就表示“最后一个”。
What you think it means: To have a conversation.
What it really means: Nothing.
Conversate actually doesn’t exist and I’ll prove it to you. Go into a program that underlines words with red if they’re spelled wrong. Now type out conversate. Did you see the red line? Conversate was meant to be a mixture of conversation and converse and be used as a verb. However, converse is a verb and there really isn’t a need for a second verb to describe the same action.
Conversate 这个单词其实是不存在的，这我可以证明。找个能标红错误拼写的程序，然后输入conversate这个单词，你应该能看到这个单词被标了红色下划线 吧？conversate应该是conversation(交谈)和converse(交谈)的混合词，词性是动词。可是，converse(交谈)本身 就是动词，根本就没必要再造一个动词来描述同一个行为了。
What you think it means: To skim or browse.
What it really means: To observe in depth.
When you peruse something, you are actually taking a very close look at it. When you’re at a record store and you’re just running through a stack of records, you are just browsing. If you pick up a record and look at the artist, track list, and additional information on the back, then your are perusing.
What you think it means: Amused.
What it really means: Confused.
This is one of the many words on this list that will make you strongly dislike the English language. Despite looking all but identical to the word amused, bemused doesn’t even come close to meaning the same thing. If you are bemused then you are actually confused.
What you think it means: To do something voluntarily by choice.
What it really means: To be forced or obligated to doing something.
This is one that people get wrong and it’s rather understandable. The real definition is very close to the definition people generally use. The difference is the motivation. When people say compelled, they think the person wants to perform the action. In fact, they are forced to do it regardless of their personal feelings. Here’s an example. When you’re in court, you are compelled to give honest testimony. You may not want to, but it doesn’t matter because you have to.
这 个单词被人们搞错其实倒也情有可原。它的真实定义和人们通常误用的含义很接近，但区别就在于动机如何。当说到compelled(被迫)时，人们以为说话 者想做某事，但实际上，说话者是有违自身情绪而被迫去做某事的。举个例子，在出庭时，你就是compelled(被迫)如实作证的，你可能心里不情愿，但 不管怎样你只能这么做。
What you think it means: To feel ill.
What it really means: To cause feelings of illness.
This is another understandable mishap that a lot of people make. If you actually feel sick then you are nauseated. The object that made you feel ill is nauseous. Here’s how this works. If you’re at an amusement park and you’re sitting next to a full trash can, the fumes from the trash may make you feel ill. That means the fumes from the trash can are nauseous because they are making you feel nauseated.
许多人用错这个单词也是情有可原的。如果你果真感到不 舒服，那么你会nauseated(作呕)，让你感到不舒服的东西是nauseous(作呕的)。请看下面的例子。假设你坐在游乐园一个满满的垃圾桶旁 边，垃圾桶里冒出的烟雾让你感到不舒服。这就是说，垃圾桶里冒出的烟雾是nauseous(令人作呕的)，因为它让你感到nauseated(作呕)。
What you think it means: Repetitive.
What it really means: Unnecessarily excessive.
This one is tough because you can use it wrong but unintentionally use it right. When you repeat something a bunch of times, it can become redundant, but redundant expands far beyond just repeating things over and over. A popular thing companies are doing now is firing people but instead of calling it “getting fired,” they call it “eliminating redundancies.” The premise being that the employee they’re firing is unnecessary and excessive and they are thus eliminating them. In pretty much any scenario where there is simply too much of something, it is redundant.
这 个单词有点复杂，因为你可能总会用错，却也不一定什么时候就用对了。当你不断重复某事很多次后，事情可能就会变得redundant(多余的)，但是 redundant这个词所包含的意思远不止“不断重复”。当下公司都很流行解聘雇员，但他们不会说“炒你鱿鱼”，而是称之为“裁员”；但前提是，被裁的 员工是可有可无的、多余的，这样就可以裁掉了。在很多情况下，如果某事太多太剩，那就是redundant(多余的)了。
What you think it means: Huge, enormous.
What it really means: Profoundly immoral or evil.
Don’t beat yourself up over this one because no one knows this one off the top of their head. Enormity sounds like enormous and as with many of our other examples, here we expect words that sound alike to have similar meanings. Enormity simply means really evil. An example of how to use it is the following: “The enormity of the crimes committed by the Nazis in World War II.” It doesn’t mean the enormous crimes, it means the heinous crimes.
不要因为用错这个单词而自责，因为没多少人能不假思索地知道这个单词。Enormity(穷凶恶极)的发音和 enormous(庞大的)比较相近，正如先前提过的许多例子一样，对于发音相似的单词，人们也很容易认为它们的意思也一样。Enormity是指“极其 邪恶”。举个例子来说明如何使用这个单词吧。“纳粹分子在二战中犯下的罪行是enormity(穷凶恶极的)。”它不是说enormous(庞大的)罪 行，而是指十恶不赦的罪行。
What you think it means: Fantastic, good.
What it really means: Horrific, to inspire fear.
This is another one that we expect will be changed in the dictionary eventually because barely anyone uses the real meaning anymore. When people say they feel terrific, they mean to say they feel fantastic. An example of something terrific is King Kong. You see a giant monster and it inspires fear. We’re going to loop awesome in with this one too. Awesome simply means to inspire awe and people often use it to describe something really good.
我们 认为这个单词的含义以后也会在词典里重新修订，因为现在几乎没有人会去使用它的真正含义。当人们说感觉terrific(恐怖的)时，他们是指感觉 fantastic(好极了)。《金刚》就是典型的terrific(可怖的)例子，因为它是巨怪，让人感到恐惧。在此顺便说说awesome这个单词 吧。Awesome是指“让人感到惊惧”，但现在人们用这个词的时候主要是指“某事好极了”。
What you may think it means: To cause something to change.
What it really means: An event that causes a change.
A lot of people staunchly defend the wrong definition of this and it’s understandable. When action A causes a change in object B, action A affected object B and object B has been affected. Effect is an event that causes a change. In our prior example, action A is, in and of itself, an effect because it affects things. It’s admittedly confusing to explain but easy to remember. If it’s a noun, it’s an effect. If it’s a verb, it’s an affect.
很多人是错误用法的拥趸者，这是可以理解的。当行动A导致事物B发生变化，行动 A影响了事物B，因此，事物B受到了影响。Effect其实是指引起变化的事件。在先前的例子中，行动A本身就是个effect(事件)，因为它影响了事 物。不得不说，这么解释起来很容易引起困惑，不过记起来却不难。如果是名词，那就是effect(事件)；如果是动词，那就是affect(影响)。
What you think it means: Bored.
What it really means: Neutral.
A good way to remember this one is that there is a word that means bored and it’s uninterested. If you’re uninterested, you’re bored. Being disinterested is the long-form equivalent of stating that you don’t care about something.