*This post is not appropriate for younger audiences.
I cringe, shudder, and gag, when I hear certain words. Family and friends take great pleasure from insidiously repeating them, poking and prodding at me as I react with death stares and trying to cover my poor ears. They’ll often (not so) innocently slip these words where they needn’t be, like slivers in a foot. Horrors! My visceral dislike of these letter clumps is the real deal.
Luckily science is on my side. I’m not totally bonkers, harbouring the level of disgust I do for sticks and squigglies. The word I loathe the most, which should be stripped of its privilege as a word, also happens to be the top voted awful word (see here and here and here and here and here, where it’s not even included because it is so popularly vile).
In fact, science even suggests that it may be totally understandable why I abhor a few particular words. Research shows that even when the meaning of a word doesn’t elicit an emotional response, its phonological properties
(re: sounds) may evoke similar reactions. However, I am an oddball. In a New York Times article, written about my least favourite word, a psychology study at Oberlin College found commonalities between people who share my hate for The-Word-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, as well as a dislike for words associated with the body, such as phlegm, vomit, and puke. I do not find these words repulsive, hence the oddball category.
Interestingly however, there have been links with synesthesia and I just happen to be synesthetic. Synesthesia popped into my life in a university Spanish class during student introductions. Another female in the class stated she was a Synesthete. After a barrage of questions from classmates as clueless as I was, my brain morphed into a discotech as I realized I was a Synesthete too – I just never knew it was “a thing”.
Confused? Let’s back up a bit. Synesthesia is when people involuntarily link one sensory percept to another. Still confused? Let’s break it down. Ever since I can remember, the letters A, D, and F have been green in my brain. R and P are red. S and C are yellow, T is blue, and so on. I am a Colour-Grapheme Synestheste – my brain involuntarily links letters (not usually numbers, though some people link both) to colours. While I would love to chat about how fun and bizarre this seems, I am tangenting and will leave you some further reading.
Getting back to those loathsome letters, the New York Times also spoke with Dr. David Eagleman from Baylor College of Medicine. He believes that there may be a connection between one’s emotional repulsion and the sound combinations of letters make that aren’t familiar in one’s language.
The Top 5 Worst English Words
The words below should be banished from vocabularies and mouths worldwide for various reasons, though, in my humble opinion, mostly for how they sound and mean. Without further ado, in order of disgust and disdain, here are my 5 least favourite English words:
- Moist (I can’t even believe I just wrote that…)
- C*&^ (Cringe-inducing every time I hear it. Not sure I’ll ever get used to it – even after living abroad in a country that uses this word surprisingly often.)
- Chalk (I hate chalk, therefore I can’t stand the noun “chalk” either.)
- Panties (Really?! Awful, just awful. This includes Panty and Pantyhose – just ridiculous.)
- Babe/Hun (Mostly I dislike being called “babe/hun”, whether it’s by waitresses, especially those younger than me, or partners, or random other folk, but it also makes me think of the pig in the movies, which then cracks me up when I hear couples call each other this.)
There you have it. The English words I think best we delete and forget forever. I hope you enjoyed this quirky start (finally!) for the Parlance (re: language) section of this website. It’s your turn now! I would love to hear which English words you can’t stand and why. Leave your comments below, my friends!