For reasons I won’t pretend to understand, moist is the most hated word in the entire English language. It’s been reviled and vilified with great vigor in Comment sections and forums from one end of the Internet to the other.
Here again, I’m odd man out. Moist doesn’t offend me; it doesn’t make me queasy; it doesn’t trigger any unpleasant reaction whatsoever. I remain unaffected. ¹ Which is at sharp odds with a full 20% of the population who regard moist as the equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Another sizable contingent wants the word eliminated from the language altogether.
I hesitate to admit this, wary of blowback, but I occasionally find a moist towelette refreshing (wait, did you gasp? I hear gasping.). I use moisturizer, too. Should I use nicknames for these things? Stop saying them aloud? Others are. Corporate America is actively avoiding moist in advertising and marketing materials — effectively banning such offensive language. Um, have they been to a movie?
Experts label this peculiar phenomenon word aversion and describe it as the strong reaction caused by the sound, sight, or just the thought of certain words. Especially moist, but there are others. Many, many, many others: slacks, pie hole, bosoms, ointment, plop, crotch, luggage, grunt, vomit, crevice, groin, and panties, were all deemed repellent and vile. Meal, too.
Is it the combination of sounds we find so disturbing? The associations with bodily functions and sex and such? Well, scientists studied and tested and researched hoping to find the answer, but couldn’t. It’s still a mystery. Similar sounding words, like hoist and foist, didn’t offend — suggesting people’s aversion isn’t based on sound. So the smart money’s on the association with nether regions and underwear and body secretions.
Personally, I think it’s a bandwagon thing. Somebody somewhere announced moist made them cringe and, bingo, lights went on in brains from sea to shining sea. ‘Yeah, me, too, I hate moist. p-tui.’ And the bandwagon rolled on, groaning under the weight of the world as it piled on. We want to be quirky, even if it means poaching someone else’s quirk.
Granted, I have no proof, but that’s my conclusion and I’m sticking to it.
copyright © 2016 the whirly girl
¹ Fine, I’m not completely immune: fart is my personal Waterloo. I can’t use it or any of its various permutations — lyrical as they may be. No farting around, no old fart, no brain fart, no fart period. I’ll admit to lapses when I used brain fart, but there was no alternative. It is a singularly perfect phrase. Useful, descriptive, very expressive, but nope. Off limits. Mostly.