That word. Yes, That word. The word we all love to hate, the world that has our inner squick surfacing, our faces grimacing, and our fingers curling for purchase into any reassuring comfort we can get our hands on.
But what is it about that word that we currently can’t even bring ourselves to type that is so very loathsome to the ear, or fingers, or lips, if you can actually bring yourself to form them around the abomination? What other words out there in the land of word aversion make your skin crawl?
Let’s take a look at a few and see which ones you agree with (apologies in advance).
Ah ha! We said it! Excuse us while we go and bathe ourselves in bleach. When not even those thought to be the apparently sexiest men alive can say the word without us cringing, is it any wonder that this appears to be the most universally hated word?
Now, the reason we dislike this word so much is, apparently, scientific. Disgust is adaptive, otherwise we wouldn’t run away from things like vomit and other unsightly bodily fluids, and disease would run rife. That is according to Paul Thibodeau, a cognitive psychologist from Oberlin College, who conducted a study attempting to find reasons why this word is so exceptionally revolting to us.
The study showed that people generally don’t like the word moist (shudder) because of its connotations with bodily fluids and actions: phlegm for some, fornication for others. Whatever
doesn’t float your boat, so it would seem.
On to the other abominations…
For there surely must be other word crimes out there.
If we’re looking for association with noises we don’t like the sound of, or at least don’t want to think about when we are in polite company, how about the word squelch? It has that onomatopoeic feel to it, like a soggy sock bunching up in your shoe after a downpour, the sound of fart putty just before it makes that other noise, and the sound of… other things.
Squirt might also fall into this category, as might smear or even phlegm itself. Secrete might be up there, as might bulbous, perhaps even the ominous image that pustule gives us. Mucus, dripping, slurping; suddenly it feels as though we have delved into the dangerous end of fanfiction.net or have found ourselves killing time on the oracle that is Urban Dictionary.
We are going to take a step back now to gather our thoughts, breathe some clean air, try not to let ourselves get overwhelmed here; please feel free to join us if you need to.
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Somewhat less unsanitary things…
Because there are some words we just plain don’t like, and they don’t necessarily have to remind us of anything else for us not to like them.
Slacks seems offensive to many, as does panties, but perhaps that’s because some are frightened at the thought of purchasing lingerie for other people… or terrified of revealing their own weekend fetishes (no judgement from us either way, of course). Luggage maybe we can understand the dislike of, since that does actually conjure up quite unpleasant images of “packing hell“ when we travel.
We seem to hate the work crevice on a similar par to orifice, but then we might be heading back to bodily word associations again and that just makes us queasy, or nauseated, if you will.
Munch puts us off of our lunches, maggots does likewise, as does roaches: it seems there is a pattern forming here of words that make us shrivel up with disgust: if the word can be connected even slightly to something we find disgusting, or that normally we wouldn’t want to find disgusting, like eating, then it’s probably going to make our teeth recede into our gums and having us retreat behind the walls we’ve just put up in our minds against the offensive things.
Getting riled up…
We get so stirred up by words we don’t like that polls for them sometimes lead to online anarchy: earlier this year Oxford Dictionary’s search for the most offensive word in the English language had to be shut down, because people were just becoming too offensive.
And now that our fury is boiling over, we are going to throw three more words into the mix, in an of course very tongue-in-cheek, no-of-course-we’re-not-serious-ha-ha kind of way before we move things along. Commitment, responsibility and adulting are all pretty high up there on the list that of words that make (some of) us want to run away and hide. Or drink heavily. (As does the phrase settling down. Urgh.)
Time to move on…
…for this look at word aversion is griping terribly at our stomach, and we don’t wish you, or us, to spend our day grimacing over the words that upset us, when there are so many lovely words out there for us to think about instead. Words like holiday and kerfuffle and sunshine for starters. Also gin, because we could sure use one right now…
We wouldn’t want to sit here and fester, thinking on the things we don’t like for too long, after all, now would we?