More on "moist"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Aug 16 15:19:34 UTC 2009

At 7:13 AM -0700 8/16/09, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>On Aug 15, 2009, at 8:09 PM, Jon Lighter followed up on a report from
>George Thompson:
>>Just so future ages (if any) be not misled about the history of humor.
>>In 1974-75 my next-door neighbor observed that a girl who'd "had a
>>good time
>>on a date" could tell by flinging her panties against the wall. If
>>stuck, she'd had a good time.
>>The word "moist" was not mentioned, IIRC.  As old-timey grammarians
>>say, it
>>was "understood."
>no, the *word* "moist" was not (necessarily) understood; what was
>understood was a reference to the wetness of female lust (as Alison
>Murie put it in a posting a while back).  as i pointed out in my
>posting on August 10 (where i reported on some counts of word use in
>sexual contexts), "wet" is more frequent than "moist" for such
>references, often hugely more frequent.
>a new set of searches, in raw ghits:
>   makes me wet  62,700
>   makes me moist  26,000
>   makes her wet  10,400
>   makes her moist  1,720
>(yes, there's a lot of noise here, but a great many of the hits are
>with reference to female sexual arousal.)
>so "moist" certainly does occur in these sexual contexts, but "wet" is
>the adjective that people pick more often -- possibly because, as a
>correspondent suggested to me back in 2007, people tend to avoid
>"moist", even in crude talk, as a result of its connotations as an
>"unpleasant" word.
Even when collocational co-occurrences attempt to override this
general result, "wet" seems to win out.  Thus:

"wet in the panties"         84
"moist in the panties"      49
"damp in the panties"      25
[much better proportionately than "damp" does in AMZ's collocations]

Curiously, the "About n" guesstimates google produces for these are
especially wildly off-base:
35,900/22,800/259 respectively.  I have no idea what's going on here,
since those numbers bear absurdly little connection with the actual
ones above (which you get by going to the last page of the actual
hits).  Maybe the google counter just gets distracted...


P.S.  I remember vaguely a few decades ago reading a feminist novel
that proposed "wet-in" (not "moist-in"!) as a result nominal
corresponding to "hard-on".  Checking googling again, it doesn't seem
to have caught on.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list