More on "moist"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Aug 8 16:20:22 UTC 2009

On Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 12:04 PM, Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
> The Archives do not wish to disgorge very much of last year's discussion of
> the allegedd offensiveness of this word.
> Just heard on NPR's quiz show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!" which I find
> _highly_ offensive for its unfunniness, that users of FaceBook have declared
> the word "moist" to be the most unpleasant word in English (or on FaceBook -
> sorry I didn't hear the entire thing).
> The show then quoted a linguist (one of us?) who suggested that
> the perceived putridity may come from the "oi" diphthong. Why a humble
> diphthong should be considered offensive went unexplored.
> I suspect anti-Brooklyn/Bowery Boy bigotry in representations of NYC
> speech.  Am very offended by all of it.

Well, Mark Peters recently quoted me about the "oi" of "moist" (and
"ointment", "goiter", etc.) in his column for Good:

No offense to Brooklynites intended, of course! Nor to residents of
Des Moines, Detroit, Boise, and Hanoi.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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