Why do so many people hate the word “moist”?

By Seriously Science | May 9, 2016 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/MonkeyMyshkin

Photo: flickr/MonkeyMyshkin

Are there certain words that really get under your skin? If those words are “moist,” “crevice,” “slacks,” or “luggage” then you’re not alone. In fact, People magazine voted “moist” as the “most cringeworthy word” in English and actually made a video of their “sexiest men alive” saying the word. But why is “moist” so objectionable to 10-20% of the population? Is it the sound of the word, or is it the meaning? This author set out to answer that question, and he found that the meaning is the key. People associate “moist” with sexual connotations, which explains the recent rise in aversion to the word. Be sure to check out the table below: it’s not every day we see a scientific paper that includes the words “fuck” and “pussy.”

A Moist Crevice for Word Aversion: In Semantics Not Sounds

“Why do people self-report an aversion to words like “moist”? The present studies represent an initial scientific exploration into the phenomenon of word aversion by investigating its prevalence and cause. Results of five experiments indicate that about 10–20% of the population is averse to the word “moist.” This population often speculates that phonological properties of the word are the cause of their displeasure. However, data from the current studies point to semantic features of the word–namely, associations with disgusting bodily functions–as a more prominent source of peoples’ unpleasant experience. “Moist,” for averse participants, was notable for its valence and personal use, rather than imagery or arousal–a finding that was confirmed by an experiment designed to induce an aversion to the word. Analyses of individual difference measures suggest that word aversion is more prevalent among younger, more educated, and more neurotic people, and is more commonly reported by females than males.”

Bonus table from the main text:

journal.pone.0153686.t004

Related content:
Great tits use the first non-human language shown to have syntax.
Flashback Friday: What’s the real difference between what men and women post on Facebook?
Republicans are more easily grossed out than Democrats.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: feelings shmeelings
ADVERTISEMENT
  • OWilson

    How about “Clearly”.

    Used most often as a start to an arrogant and misinformed opinion.

  • Michael Castro

    Well, that was an in-depth article!

    • Scott Furtwengler

      And a bonus table!

  • Lord

    It’s cake to me.

    • JermCool

      It’s a lie.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Seriously, Science?

Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]gmail.com.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar
+