Words That Make You Go Ewww! by Jenna Jaxon

scrabble board

I love words. We as authors are wordsmiths. Words are our livelihood. I love language and even though its rules sometimes makes me crazy, I really do enjoy putting words together in the best way to create stories from my heart.

However, all words are not created equal.

Everyone has favorite words. Some of mine are unique, onomatopoeia, wicked, and integral. I have dozens more, and my editor will tell you they also include that, nodded, turned, smiled, and just. 🙂

And just as we all have favorite words, we all have words we simply hate with a passion. This is called word aversion. Nico Lang’s article, “Moist And 28 Other Gross-Sounding English Words That Everyone Hates” states that our aversion to words is linked both to phonetics and to meaning. “The linguistic formula for a disgusting word is to make sure it contains phonetically abrasive letters like “b,” “g,” “m,” “u” and “o,” which you’ll find to be common among the most hated, but “bogus” doesn’t elicit the same response as “bulbous,” the sound of which makes you instantly queasy.” He goes on to say that “to truly offend and revolt, [the word] has to play on our deep-seated semiotic associations with meaning. It’s not just the word, but what it represents to us.”

When the Huffington Post asked their Facebook Fans what their favorite “squirm” words were, the list that began with “ointment,” also contained “ooze,” “mucous,” “pus,” and “conversate.” (The latter always makes my skin crawl.)

After consulting several sources (and having had many people tell me this) the number 1 hated word seems to be “moist.” In the Slate article, “Why Do We Hate Certain Words?,” Matthew JX Malady says, “If pop cultural references, Internet blog posts, and social media are any indication, moist reigns supreme in its capacity to disgust a great many of us… VH1 declared that using the word moist is enough to make a man ‘undateable.’” Even more startling, “Readers of The New Yorker flocked to Facebook and Twitter to choose moist as the one word they would most like to be eliminated from the English language. In a survey of 75 Mississippi State University students from 2009, moist placed second only to vomit as the ugliest word in the English language.”

So now it’s your turn. Which words to you absolutely love? And which do you hate?

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5 Responses to Words That Make You Go Ewww! by Jenna Jaxon

  1. Jenna Jaxon says:

    Reblogged this on Jenna Jaxon Romance–because passion is timeless. and commented:

    I published this post on Nights of Passion on Sunday and since I’m on a writer’s retreat this week, I thought you might enjoy thinking about words–you know I will be. 🙂

  2. Rhissanna says:

    I can’t deal with the word ‘portion’. No idea why…

  3. janispattersonmysteries says:

    Odd – the ‘horrible’ examples given above are to me just words to which I have no discernable reaction. Words by themselves are innocuous – merely a collection of letters/syllables which have come to represent certain things. Perhaps the things they represent are repugnant, but to carry that reaction over to a simple descriptive word is surely overkill. That said, there is one word which tends to set my teeth on edge, and that is ‘elite,’ but I know myself enough to realize that it is the mindset behind the word rather than the word itself which I find distasteful.

  4. Barbara Bettis says:

    I’m with you on the list of words the editors keep reminding us about 🙂 ! As for the other, ‘moist’ doesn’t elicit a cringe from me–but ‘mucus’ and ‘slimy’ get me every time.

  5. Daryl Devore says:

    A certain editor suggested the word laved for licked – I cringed but used it. Then in a post somewhere people were tossing in the words they dislike and “laved” got mention a bunch of times – so I dropped it from my word list 🙂
    Tweeted.

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