Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Very Slightly Damp

While I have previously discussed words, and the many ways we love them, I must now turn my attention to the unpleasant topic of words, and the many ways we loathe them.

In my years of sharing my love of the written and spoken word with all and sundry, I have discovered a curious thing. It turns out not all people are enamored of all words the way I am. Rather, some people downright detest particular words. One seemingly innocuous word consisting of five inoffensive letters keeps appearing in these revelations of disgust. When spoken, it is whispered with the lips curled back, as though the speaker is trying not to vomit. Others try not to utter it at all. When I stumble upon the hated word by happenstance, I am met with a cringe, and a waving of hands, accompanied by a hissed, "Don't say that," while the speaker looks over his or her shoulder, as if I might have summoned Voldemort by uttering the befouled mot.

So, what is this loathsome bit of linguistic torment?

Trigger Warning for those afflicted by detestable words.

And if you are someone who A) Feels strongly about a particular word, and B) Has communicated to me your abhorrence of one, you might know what's coming.

This is your last chance to look away.


The beastly word is:


Allow these adorable felines to soothe your distressed nerves.

I must admit, when I first encountered moist-hate, I thought it was an isolated thing, an eccentric quirk of a dear friend. I found it silly and endearing. After all, some of my favorite things are moist. Cake, for instance, or the warm towelette one is presented with at the end of a transatlantic flight. What could possibly be offensive about delectable pastries and refreshing towelettes? Then I learned another friend disliked the word. And then another. Befuddled, I turned to the Internet, certain I must just be trapped on some island of irrational word aversion. And this is what I saw:

Anyone with a word du jour is all right by me.

Gross? Worst? Dirty? This is a thing, this dislike of moist? Dear reader, you may color me stunned. Some more poking about revealed page after page and list after list of despised words. If moist wasn't on the list itself, it quickly appears in the comment sections. One can fall down a rabbit hole chasing links brimming with moist-hate.
The hatred hurts. Right here.

My heart knows no hatred when it comes to words. Each and every one has its proper place and usage, so this widespread loathing of dear little moist had me feeling like a loose sail flapping in the wind. I had to make sense of all the vitriol aimed at this word. Certainly, it may have to occasionally shoulder the adjectival burden of describing something unpleasant, such as "moist eczema" or "moist specimen" but then, eczema and specimens aren't always the most pleasant things, are they? And yet it's moist that takes the fall for doing its descriptive duty.

The only thing that could make my bruised heart feel better about the beating moist gets is a new, shiny word. I found one relating to the hatred of a specific lexeme.

Logomisia refers to a "strong dislike for a particular word (or type of word) based on its sound, meaning, usage, or associations." Of course, moist is thrown to the wolves in the example section of this link. Sigh.

Poor moist. I think I'll have some cake. While I do, discuss your own word aversions (or lack thereof!) in the comments.