Tag Archives: bragadoccio

Tips for Adulthood: Five Ways to Sound Pompous

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

This week’s list is born from a lifetime of frustration from dealing with pompous adults. Being pompous is such an unattractive quality and it never fails to alienate. And yet we all, on occasion, fall prey to it. So if you are afraid that you, too, may be guilty of pomposity (there’s a word for you!) here are five tell-tale signs:

1. Pepper your conversation with French. OK, sure. We all like to toss in the odd “entre nous” once in a while or the token “Voilà!” I have no problem with that. But when the French starts to feel forced, it’s sure to grate. I had a writing teacher who had this irritating tic of ending all of his sentences with the phrase “comme ça.” As in: “And so we see that it’s important not to over-use adverbs…comme ça, yes?”  Ummmm…comme ça, non.

2. Worse, sprinkle it with Italian. Because it’s less common than French, Italian sounds both more exotic and more esoteric. I knew someone in graduate school who liked to use the term “braggadocio” when criticizing a piece of writing, as in “that sounds too braggadocio.” But, really, only someone who is multo braggadocio himself could possibly use a word like braggadocio with a straight face. (Which reminds me of a great line from Woody Allen’s play, Don’t Drink the Water: “Be that as it may, and I hasten to add, that I never use expressions like ‘Be that as it may’ or ‘I hasten to add’.”)

3. Send out an automatic email reply with a detailed itinerary. I used to work with a woman who, when she went on a business trip, didn’t just say “I’ll be away from my desk until Thursday.” Instead, her automatic replies read something like: “I will be briefing the U.N. Security Council, followed by a one-on-one meeting with the President’s Chief of Staff. Then on to Stockholm to address an audience of 500 about the importance of global warming…” I’m not kidding.

4. Tell people how important you are. I once went on a first – and last – date with a guy who revealed that he’d recently been listed as one of Washington’s 100 most powerful people. (This, right after telling me how much money he made and how often he worked out.) Yuck. Then again, he did end up paying for our meal with a voucher from the Trump Shuttle, so I guess I didn’t register on his Top 100 list either.

5. Do a Series of In-Jokes in Your Holiday Card. For years, we used to get a holiday card from one couple which listed things like this – “Tagliatelle with G.! Singapore in Spring!” – which, of course, no one could possibly understand or relate to unless they had, in fact, been eating tagliatelle with G. or been in Singapore in Spring.

Any other pompous traits I’ve failed to mention?


Just came across the invitingly named blog, Adulthood Sucks. I love a blog with a sense of humor…

Image: English Spoken with French Accent by Amelieavian via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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