More on "moist"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Aug 9 04:13:45 UTC 2009

At 11:02 PM -0400 8/8/09, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 12:46 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>  At 12:04 PM -0400 8/8/09, Jonathan Lighter 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).
>>  Wonder where "hoist" and "joist" fall on the list.  I suspect
>>  semantics has something to do with it...
>This was indeed the point I was trying to make in the Word Routes
>column. Here's what I originally wrote:
>"Why does 'moist' merit a Facebook group of haters, while 'hoist' and
>'joist' go unnnoticed? It's more than just the sound of the word: the
>disliked words tend to have some basic level of ickiness... slimy
>stuff, bodily discharge, or other things that people would prefer not
>to think about. Icky words include 'nostril,' 'crud,' 'pus,' and
>'pimple.' 'Ointment' and 'goiter' share the 'oi' sound with 'moist':
>there must be something about that diphthong that gets under people's
There goes Ben again, cribbing from me less than three months before
I said the same thing almost as clearly.



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