50 Sophisticated Words in English (With Examples From Movies)

By: Rafal Reyzer
Updated: Sep 29th, 2023

Sophisticated words in English - featured image

There are many advanced word lists, but usually, they lack proper examples.

In this article, however, you’ll find some of the juiciest verbiage ever devised and get some movie entertainment as a bonus. Watching movies is probably one of the best ways to stay in touch with the living language, and as a movie addict, I couldn’t help but create this list. Each of these fancy words is followed by a definition, an example, and a movie scene in which it appeared. All of these examples are marvelous, as they include copious amounts of other advanced words and witty dialogues. Enjoy.

The 50 Sophisticated Words in English List:

1. Obtuse – Lacking quickness of perception or intellect.

Example: The Shawshank Redemption

Andy Dufresne: “Are you obtuse?”

2. Condescending – having or showing an attitude of patronizing superiority.

Example: The Social Network

Mark Zuckerberg: “Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”

3. Enhance – intensify, increase, or further improve the quality, value, or extent of.

Example: The Game of Thrones

Bronn: Oh… are we friends now?

Tyrion Lannister: Of course we are. Just because I pay you for your services doesn’t diminish our friendship.

Bronn: Enhances it, really.

Tyrion Lannister: Oh, “enhances”. Fancy word for a sellsword.

Bronn: Been spending time with fancy folks.

4. Demented – behaving irrationally due to anger, distress, or excitement. (or suffering from dementia)

Example: The Network

Howard Beale: Well, if there’s anybody out there that can look around this demented slaughterhouse of a world we live in and tell me that man is a noble creature, believe me: That man is full of bullshit.

5. Vicissitude (+ 100 other words in the movie): a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.

Example: V For Vendetta

V.: But on this most auspicious of nights, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace soubriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona. Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.

6. Accretion – growth or increase by the gradual accumulation of additional layers or matter.

Example: True Detective

Rust Cohle: We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self; an accretion of sensory, experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody.

7. Oblivious – not aware of or concerned about what is happening around one.

Example: The Matrix

Agent Smith: Have you ever stood and stared at it? Marveled at its beauty… its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives… oblivious.

8. Wanton – (of a cruel or violent action) deliberate and unprovoked.

Example: Hannibal (TV Series)

Hannibal: God is beyond measure in wanton malice.

9. Avarice – extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

Example: Hannibal (The Movie)

Hannibal: Because of his avarice, and his betrayal of the emperor’s trust, Pier della Vigna was disgraced, blinded, and imprisoned.

10. To dabble – take part in an activity in a casual or superficial way (or immerse one’s hands or feet partially in water and move them around gently).

Example: Annie Hall

Alvy: So, did you do shoot the photographs in there or what?

Annie: Yeah, yeah, I sorta dabble around, you know.

11. Predatory – preying naturally on others.

Example: Inglorious Basterds

Hans Landa: Now, if one were to determine what attribute the German people share with a beast, it would be the cunning and the predatory instinct of a hawk.

12. Contender – a person who tries to win something in a contest; especially: a person who has a good chance of winning.

Example: On The Waterfront

Terry Malloy: You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.

13. Pestilential – relating to or tending to cause infectious diseases.

Example: Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln: I can’t accomplish a goddamn thing of any worth until we cure ourselves of slavery and end this pestilential war!

14. Lethal – sufficient to cause death (very harmful or destructive.)

Example: Django Unchained

Dr. King Schultz: My good man, did you simply get carried away with your dramatic gesture, or are you pointing your weapon at me with lethal intention?

15. Fornication – sexual intercourse between people not married to each other.

Example: King’s Speech

Lionel Logue: Do you know the f-word?

King George VI: F… f… fornication?

Lionel Logue: Oh, Bertie.

16. Digression – a temporary departure from the main subject in speech or writing.

Example: Genius (2016)

Thomas Wolfe: Had there ever been such blue? Had there ever been such eyes?

Maxwell Perkins: Don’t need the rhetorical.

Thomas Wolfe: Why?

Maxwell Perkins: It’s not a lightning bolt. It’s a digression.

Thomas Wolfe: A blue beyond blue – no. Her eyes were blue.

Maxwell Perkins: Better.

17. Customary – according to the customs or usual practices associated with a particular society, place, or set of circumstances.

Example: Reversal of Fortune

Claus von Bülow: I let the dogs out as was customary.

18. Compound – a thing that is composed of two or more separate elements; a mixture.

Example: Breaking Bad

Walter White: Chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change. Now, just think about this. Electrons, they change their energy levels. Molecules change their bonds. Elements, they combine and change into compounds. Well that’s… That’s all of life, right?

19. Monstrous – having the ugly or frightening appearance of a monster (or inhumanly or outrageously evil or wrong).

Example: Game of Thrones

Tyrion Lannister: No, of that I’m innocent. I am guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I am guilty of being a dwarf.

20. Incompatible – (of two things) so different in nature as to be incapable of coexisting.

Example: Dangerous Liaisons

Marquise de Merteuil: Vanity and happiness are incompatible.

21. Regurgitate – repeat (information) without analyzing or comprehending it (or bring swallowed food up again to the mouth).

Example: Good Will Hunting

Will: That’s gonna last until next year — you’re gonna be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood, talkin’ about, you know, the Pre-revolutionary utopia and the capital-forming effects of military mobilization.

22. Fathom – understand (a difficult problem or an enigmatic person) after much thought.

Example: A Few Good Men

Jessep: I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.

23. Inter – place (a corpse) in a grave or tomb, typically with funeral rites.

Example: Julius Caesar

Mark Anthony: I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar.

24. Exacerbate – make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse.

Example: Capote

Perry Smith: They only exacerbate the problem; they only heighten or intensify it.

Truman Capote: Perry, I know what ‘exacerbate’ means.

Perry Smith: Okay… well…

Truman Capote: There is not a word or a sentence or a concept that you can illuminate for me.

25. Desolation – a state of complete emptiness or destruction (or great unhappiness or loneliness).

Example: The Lion in Winter

Eleanor of Aquitaine: What a desolation!

26. Canine – relating to or resembling a dog or dogs.

Example: The Last Action Hero

Benedict: I snap my fingers again and sometime tomorrow, you emerge from several canine rectors.

27. Yawp – a harsh or hoarse cry or yelp.

Example: Dead Poets Society

John Keating: I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

28. Valediction – the action of saying farewell.

Example: LA Confidential

Dudley: Have you a valediction, boyo?

29. Loathe – feel intense dislike or disgust for.

Example: House of Cards

Frank Underwood: I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful men on their backs.

30. Nefarious – (typically of an action or activity) wicked or criminal.

Example: Sherlock Holmes

Lord Chief Justice: Be as skeptical as you like. But our secret system has steered the world for the greater good for centuries. The danger is they can also be used for more nefarious purposes.

31. Compromise – an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions (but also – expediently accept standards that are lower than is desirable).

Example: The Invisible Woman

Mrs. Frances Ternan: I cannot risk Nelly’s reputation.

Charles Dickens: I hope that nothing I could offer would compromise her.

32. Racy – lively, entertaining, and typically sexually titillating.

Example: The Remains of the Day

Miss Kenton: Are you reading a racy book?

33. Catalytic – relating to or involving the action of a catalyst (Catalyst – a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change).

Example: A Dangerous Method

Carl Jung: A Catalytic Exteriorization Phenomenon

34. Perjure – willfully tell an untruth or make a misrepresentation under oath; commit perjury.

Example: Pride and Prejudice

Elizabeth Bennet: Your unfortunate brother once had to put up with my playing for a whole evening.

Georgiana Darcy: But he says you play so well.

Elizabeth Bennet: Then he has perjured himself most profoundly.

Mr. Darcy: No I said, “played quite well.”

35. Hinder – make it difficult for (someone) to do something or for (something) to happen.

Example: A Room With a View

George Emerson: This tremendous thing has happened between us and it means… it means nothing must hinder us ever again.

36. Solemnity – the state or quality of being serious and dignified (or a formal, dignified rite or ceremony).

Example: The Age of Innocence

Narrator: Dining with the van der Luydens was at best no light matter, and dining there with a Duke who was their cousin was almost a religious solemnity.

37. Lineal – being in the direct line, as a descendant or ancestor, or in a direct line, as descent or succession.

Example: Macbeth

Macbeth – Upon my head, they placed a fruitless crown. And put a barren scepter in my grip. Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand. No son of mine succeeding.

38. Mispersuade – to persuade wrongly.

Example: Mansfield Park

Mary: Here is my proposal. We mispersuade Henry to marry Mariah.

39. Ungentlemanly – not appropriate to or behaving like a gentleman.

Example: The Importance of Being Earnest

Jack: […] you have no right whatsoever to read what is written inside. It is a very ungentlemanly thing to read a private cigarette case.

40. Ravishing – delightful; entrancing.

Example: The Picture of Dorian Grey

Dorian Grey: Allow me to offer my congratulations on your ravishing debut.

41. Minnow – a small freshwater Eurasian fish of the carp family, which typically forms large shoals (or a small or insignificant person or organization).

Example: Scent of a Woman

Frank: You’re building a rat ship here — a vessel for sea-going snitches. And if you think you’re preparing these minnows for manhood, you better think again. Because I say you are killing the very spirit this institution proclaims it instills!

42. Abhor – regard with disgust and hatred.

Example: Much Ado About Nothing

Leonato: Most wonderful that she should so dote on Signor Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviors seemed ever to abhor.

43. Forfeit – lose or be deprived of (property or a right or privilege) as a penalty for wrongdoing.

Example: The Merchant of Venice

Salarino: Why, I am sure, if he forfeit thou wilt not take his flesh. What’s that good for?

Shylock: To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge.

44. Futility – pointlessness or uselessness.

Example: The Dresser

Sir: I know futility when I see it.

45. Chasm – a deep fissure in the earth’s surface (or a profound difference between people, viewpoints, feelings, etc.)

Example: The Lord of The Rings

Elrond: The Ring was made in the fires of Mount Doom; only there can it be unmade. It must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came.

46. Self-perpetuating – perpetuating itself or oneself without external agency or intervention.

Example: My Dinner with Andre

Andre: OK. Yes, we are bored. We’re all bored now. But has it ever occurred to you Wally that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating, unconscious form of brainwashing, created by a world totalitarian government based on money, and that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks?

47. Predicated – something which is affirmed or denied concerning an argument of a proposition.

Example: The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon Cooper: Either the reason is predicated on a series of sub-reasons leading to an infinite regression, or it trackbacks to arbitrary axiomatic statements or it’s ultimately circular i.e. I’m moving out because I’m moving out.

48. Distinguished – very successful, authoritative, and commanding great respect.

Example: Star Trek

Judge: This is Commander Spock. He’s one of our most distinguished graduates.

49. Bosom – a woman’s chest or breasts (or used to refer to the chest as the seat of emotions).

Example: Richard III

King Richard: Now is the winter of our discontent. Made glorious summer by this son of York. And all the clouds that loured upon our house. In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

50. Unfounded – having no foundation or basis in fact.

Example: Doubt

Father Flynn: It’s about your unfounded suspicions.

Do you know any other movies which include sophisticated vocabulary?

Wrap up

Learning to use these fancy words in practice is an excellent way to enrich your next college essay or book chapter. Remember that it’s not about using big words for the sake of it. Each word needs to serve a specific purpose. After adding these words to your collection, you might also be interested in checking my articles about the most beautiful words in the world.

Rafal Reyzer

Rafal Reyzer

Hey there, welcome to my blog! I'm a full-time entrepreneur building two companies, a digital marketer, and a content creator with 10+ years of experience. I started RafalReyzer.com to provide you with great tools and strategies you can use to become a proficient digital marketer and achieve freedom through online creativity. My site is a one-stop shop for digital marketers, and content enthusiasts who want to be independent, earn more money, and create beautiful things. Explore my journey here, and don't miss out on my AI Marketing Mastery online course.