A veteran copywriter offers a trio of three-letter words that can make you a whole lot of money.





Before you read


Replace the phrases in bold in the text with the words/phrases below:


frame         itsy bitsy            cleans you out                spill     

                    lead astray        spill           shot up                nifty                   

     drive home                      quirks                 outsize


It’s probably not news to you that humans are sometimes less than perfectly rational. But if you want confirmation, science has uncovered a long list of cognitive biases that frequently 1. make us believe something that is not true. These are the 2. peculiarities that make paying $99.99 feel a lot more reasonable than $100 or convince you that because your brother-in-law is an unsophisticated loudmouth, he’s also probably bad at poker (right before he 3. takes all your money)

As these examples illustrate, biases often lead us to bad outcomes. But if you’re an entrepreneur trying to sell something, our mental quirks can also work to your advantage. The $99.99 trick isn’t great for shoppers, but it’s pretty 4. appealing from the perspective of stores and business owners. 

Tiny changes in the way we 5. describe things (choosing our words carefully) have 6.  enormous impact when it comes to prices and visuals. The same is true when it comes to words. All writers (…) know this. Few know it better than veteran copywriter Joanna Wiebe, founder of the blog Copyhackers and author of the upcoming book Money Words. And, happily, she’s willing to 7. reveal some of her best secrets. 

Tiny words, huge impact

In a long article for First Round Review, Wiebe offers many real-world examples of seemingly small changes to a phrase or headline that had dramatic effects on outcomes. 

Should insurance cover expensive IVF? Nearly five times more people say yes if pollsters frame the problem being treated as a “fertility disease” rather than a “fertility condition.” When scientists asked study subjects to play a game that tested their cooperativeness, sharing 8. raised nearly 40 percent when the game was called “the Community Game” rather than “the Wall Street Game.” And the easier a company’s name is to pronounce, the better its stock performs. 

These are only a few of the examples offered by Wiebe, but they’re enough to 9. to state in an effective way her point: tiny changes, huge impact. What’s the takeaway for entrepreneurs? First and foremost, test everything — all the language you use for emails, website copy, ads — and see what performs. But Wiebe also shares three 10. tiny “money words” that will reliably make you money if you use them wisely in your copy (…)

In order to check your answers/read the whole article, go to: https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/3-tiny-money-words-that-instantly-increase-sales


Key: 1. lead us astray; 2. quirks; 3. cleans you out; 4. nifty; 5. frame; 6. outsize; 7.spill; 8. shot up; 9. drive home; 10. itsy bitsy




  • loudmouth – a person who talks a lot, especially in an offensive or stupid way
  • IVF – in vitro fertilization
  • pollster – a person who conducts or analyses opinion polls
  • unassuming – not pretentious; modest.


Practice makes perfect



and choose the right answer a)-d) to the questions below:


1.Why do words matter according to Lera Boroditsky?

a) They change our perceptions of the world.

b) They are powerful.

c)They can drastically change someone’s perspective.

d) All of the above.


 2. What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?

a) The idea that when a community has seven words for snow instead of one, its perception of that white, flaky material is different.

b) The idea that people perceive the 80 percent lean hamburger as much healthier than the 20 percent fat option.

c) The idea that what isn’t named can’t be counted.

d) The idea that if a word like “transgender” is never mentioned, then you can never have data about how services, violence, social ills or outcomes are distributed across those groups.


 3. What is the reason for erasing the word “fetus” according to Lera Boroditsky?

a) To make human life be seen as continuous from the point of conception.

b) To take out a categorical distinction in the medical world between conception and child and treat it as one continuous category.

c) To treat all things across the whole life span as the same.

d) Both A and B.


4. What is the significance of making certain categories administratively invisible?

a) You don’t have to deliver those services.

b) It becomes impossible to make a scientific argument.

c) You can never do the data collection to show what’s true.

d) All of the above.


5. What was the reaction of the American Public Health Association to the news that the CDC should not use seven specific words?

a) They objected to it.

b) They thought somebody was joking.

c) They thought it wouldn’t erase those ideas from people’s minds and the conversations people have on the street.

d) None of the above.

Key: 1.d; 2a; 3b; 4d; 5a


Fill in the gaps in the sentences below with the words in bold:


          outsize            spill         nifty       itsy-bitsy        

     drive home        lead astray        quirks

1. Oh, look at that! What a ………. little gadget.

2. Nightgowns are generally made in three sizes—small, medium and …….. .

3. Mark is fascinated by people’s ………. and foibles (=weaknesses).

4. Don’t accessorise such a dramatic dress with ………. jewellery.

5. The testimony would inflame the jurors, and ……… them …… from the facts of the case.

6. Don’t ……… the secret!

7. I often talk to my children and try to …… ……. these basic ideas.



Key: 1. nifty; 2. outsize; 3. quirks; 4. itsy-bitsy; 5. lead (them) astray 6. spill; 7. drive home


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In an exclusive preview of his book The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker looks at language and how it expresses what goes on in our minds — and how the words we choose communicate much more than we realize.