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6 Words Women Pretty Much Universally Hate

Experts at Oberlin College asked 500 women what they considered the most unpleasant words in the English language. Here's what rose to the top.

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Seventy-seven percent of the women polled reported an extreme dislike of the word “moist.” Paul H. Thibodeau, an expert on word aversion and author of the Oberlin study, believes that it’s the sound of the word that’s off-putting, even though the words “foist” and “hoist” didn’t elicit the same reaction. The meaning of “moist” seems to be a factor, too. People who cringed at “moist” also disliked “damp,” “wet,” and “sticky.”

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“‘Squirt’ has some of the same phonetic feature as ‘moist,'” Thibodeau told Yahoo Health. “It has the hard ‘t’ at the end, and forces you to constrict your mouth as you produce the vowel.” About two-thirds of respondents disliked “squirt.”

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About half of those polled recoiled at the word “panties.” Thibodeau thinks that the juxtaposition of the two ways the words is used makes people uncomfortable. “For a very young person, panties is almost euphemistic [for underwear], it’s gentle,” he says. But then, “it sort of takes on these sexual properties. It becomes risque as people grow up.”

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“Chunky” falls into the category of words disliked because they’re seen as insulting. Thibodeau also thinks that respondents were averse to the word because of its similarity to “funky.”

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For about a quarter of the women, the power of association may doom the word “curd.” People may think of the words “turd,” “crud,” and “curdle,” says Thibodeau.

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Twenty-two percent of women hate the word “flap,” though Thibodeau isn’t sure why. He thinks discomfort with words that describe the human body may be to blame since “flap” may call to mind “skin flap.”

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest