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.”
http://thinkexist.com/quotation/man_invented_language_to_satisfy_his_deep_need_to/11385.html

Language Log has written about ‘word aversion’ before
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/004835.html

and the incomparable Ben Zimmer has covered it, too
http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/wordroutes/which-words-do-you-love-and-which-do-you-hate/

but a recent Slate article has set people off anew.
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_good_word/2013/04/word_aversion_hate_moist_slacks_crevice_why_do_people_hate_words.html

We’re not talking about overused jargon
http://www.spring.org.uk/2008/06/30-psychobabble-phrases-which-do-you.php

or mistaken usage.
http://www.waywordradio.org/discussion/topics/what-words-do-you-hate-1/

Here are six words that Cracked.com doesn’t like
http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-words-we-should-ban-because-they-make-me-uncomfortable/

For some reason, people really hate ‘moist’.
http://www.good.is/posts/why-do-we-hate-the-word-moist/

There’s even a Facebook group: ‘I HATE the word MOIST!’
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2221467350/

And another: ‘Saying the word “moist” to make others uncomfortable.’
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saying-the-word-moist-to-make-others-uncomfortable/195752840457419

Ben thought I was pronouncing things creepily, but how about this pronunciation of ‘panties’?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59oLURcPNo0

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.
http://www.forum.exionnaire.com/dico-quel-est-votre-mot-francais-deteste-3727

Here’s one in Spanish.
http://www.fucsia.cl/2011/05/20/palabras-que-odio/

Disgust may have been a precursor to our evolved sense of morality. People make harsher moral judgments when they’re subjected to disgusting smells.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2562923/


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