Are there any words you really hate?

Word aversion may not be an actual condition, but there’s no shortage of words that make people’s toes curl. What are the most hated words in English? Do speakers of other languages feel this way about their words?

Linguist Daniel Midgley will be making things moist on this episode of Talk the Talk.

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When we start talking about the most hated words in English, things are bound to get out of hand.

Show notes

“Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.”

Language Log has written about ‘word aversion’ before

and the incomparable Ben Zimmer has covered it, too

but a recent Slate article has set people off anew.

We’re not talking about overused jargon

or mistaken usage.

Here are six words that doesn’t like

For some reason, people really hate ‘moist’.

There’s even a Facebook group: ‘I HATE the word MOIST!’

And another: ‘Saying the word “moist” to make others uncomfortable.’

Ben thought I was pronouncing things creepily, but how about this pronunciation of ‘panties’?

Does this happen in other languages? I found a web page for this sort of thing in French, but it’s more about objectionable concepts, not real word aversion.

Here’s one in Spanish.

Disgust may have been a precursor to our evolved sense of morality. People make harsher moral judgments when they’re subjected to disgusting smells.

Show tunes

‘Even If You’re Missing Fingers, You Can Make a Fist’ by The Barons of Tang
from the album Knots and Tangles

‘Do You Remember the First Time?’ by Pulp
from the album His ‘n’ Hers