common words introverts extroverts

Extroverts and introverts have vastly different perceptions of life – so different, in fact, that they often struggle to understand one another.

Here are 5 common words / phrases that have totally different meanings for an introvert and an extrovert:

#1 of the Common Words: Solitude

Extrovert’s definition: A negative state of being, characterized by a feeling of loneliness and boredom. May lead to frantic attempts to find company, including: calling everyone you know; seeing who’s available on chat; potentially going as far as making new friends for the sake of filling in this unbearable window of empty and meaningless existence.

Introvert’s definition: A joyful state heralded in by sigh of relief, giving way to excitement, and a warm, fuzzy feeling at the prospect of getting to enjoy a whole spectrum of solitary activities at one’s leisure. A rare opportunity for pleasure that is only jeopardized by those arch-nemeses of the introvert: the telephone and the doorbell.

#2 of the Common Words: Book

Extrovert’s definition: Useful as a doorstop, paperweight, or decorative item for filling up a bookshelf. Something that must be grappled with as part of work or school obligations. Can be both a useful item and indeed a source of some pleasure at the appropriate time: on a commute to and from work, for example; or on the beach during summer holidays, when all other entertainment options have been exhausted.

Introvert’s definition: A good friend, a source of comfort; a great way of travelling, having adventures, and meeting people, without the string of inconveniences involved in actually doing it. An extremely useful decoy in public places, such as on planes or in cafes, to avoid being forced into a conversation with the person sitting next to you.

#3 of the Common Words: Boredom

Extrovert’s definition: A feeling generally precipitated by being stuck at home with nothing to do and no-one to do it with. Another situation that might also give rise to a feeling of boredom is being prevented from socializing by some obligation such as work or study. An unbearable state of affairs; something to be borne with fortitude until one is free to be in the company of others again.



Introvert’s definition: A feeling that is experienced mainly at obligatory social events, while having to engage in small talk with people who are unfamiliar. Usually accompanied by fantasies of scenarios in which the introvert fabricates an ingenious excuse to leave early and escape to the peace and quiet of their home, and gets away with it.

#4 of the Common Words: Good Manners

Extrovert’s definition: Being a caring and decent human being who makes sure that everybody is included in a social gathering. Asking people questions about themselves to engage them in an interesting conversation. Recognizing immediately when an uncomfortable silence might arise in a dialogue, and using extreme skill and dexterous conversational manoeuvring to avoid it.

Introvert’s definition: Not bothering people unless absolutely necessary. Waiting for people to approach you rather than putting them in a position where they might feel uncomfortable. This rule can be relaxed when dealing with someone you are very familiar with: in cases of closer acquaintances, you may bother the person. However, if you have even the slightest suspicion that they might be busy, it’s best avoided to prevent possible unpleasantness.

#5 of the Common Words: Telephone

Extrovert’s definition: The best of all inventions of God’s good earth. The thing that keeps us going in times of difficulty. That thing which keeps us connected to the world when we’re forced to be out of the immediate presence of others. The wonderful tool through which we can increase the number of people present in any social situation. Something to look through for other opportunities to socialize when sources of conversation in our physical environment have dried up temporarily.

Introvert’s definition: Damned nuisance. The thing that starts making noise and is followed by 30 seconds of rabbit-in-headlights style staring at caller ID, trying to work out if you can get away with not answering. Occasionally useful for making appointments and calling for food to be delivered, and for talking to boy/girlfriend, very close friends, and family.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Did you recognize yourself in any of these definitions? 



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Caroline Hindle

Caroline Hindle

Caroline Hindle is a freelance writer, editor, and translator living in Athens, Greece. She has an MA in Ancient World Studies, but has a wide spectrum of interests, including philosophy, history, science, literature, politics, morality, and popular culture.