lose the words

the cake is very moist

I’m not sure how long this has been going on, but each year some in the German press debate and decide on the Unwort des Jahres. When I asked google how that could be translated, it came up with ‘taboo word‘. I don’t like that at all. Because ‘taboo‘ connotes that the word has rarely been spoken openly, yet these examples of each year’s Unwort are often chosen because they’ve been overused and the judges are sick of them.

Oh, look…here’s a website that’s actually called www.unwortdesjahres.net. I’m not sure why they want to get rid of ‘peanuts‘, but luckily I haven’t heard of anyone attempting to erase the word from the English language. I like peanuts. The nuts and the word. If the word weren’t in the language anymore, how would I ask for them? The packages on the shelf in the store would probably have the peanuts inside, but there’d be no name on the package. I don’t like the sound of any of that.

Then I happened upon a New Yorker article titled:

Words came in, marked for death…

It’s essentially the same idea. The magazine introduced what they call a ‘twitter-based game show‘, and in the first one readers were to ‘propose a single English word that should be eliminated from the language.‘ First of all, what’s a ‘twitter-based game show‘? Is that really a thing? Why wasn’t I informed? I follow the New Yorker on twitter. Shouldn’t they have made a bigger deal of this? If we’re eliminating words from the language, shouldn’t more of us be somehow included? It seems only fair.

I’d go through all the words that were volunteered, but you can click on the link. It won’t hurt you.

But one of the words that thankfully doesn’t get any support from the magazine was ‘moist‘. What on earth is wrong with ‘moist‘? I like that word. A cake that isn’t dry is moist. The grass in the early morning can be moist. Wonderful word – moist.

But the New Yorker provides a link to another site called the Visual Thesaurus, and the piece that also shines light on the aversion to this lovely word. Here you can read the results from a similar poll Which Words Do You Love and Which Do You Hate?

What’s the problem with moist? Really?

I don’t get this.

So what’s my Unwort? What would I rather not hear anymore? I wish I’d never have to hear anything about mayonnaise. Just the thought of that stuff makes me nauseous.


  1. I am a big believer in English words. Sometimes we import useless words from other languages. Like “Genmaicha” – what’s wrong with using the standard English phrase “tea that tastes so bad we think adding burnt-tasting rice makes it better”.
    Although in Germany it’s a different story. I’d suggest just getting rid of the language entirely. Sure,. we can keep “schadenfreude” but getting rid of German is the first step toward getting rid of several really ugly languages like Dutch and really overrated ones, like French.
    Anyone who has watched Star Trek knows that in the future we all speak either English or Klingon, anyway.
    Every stupid word made up by George W. Bush not knowing the correct word – such as “detainment” instead of “detention” should be burnt
    And a tip to American HR Professionals – if you ever say “Pre-on-boarding” to me again, I’ll kick you in the goolies. Whilst you’re looking up ‘goolies.

  2. I think the problem people have with the word “moist” is that it’s often used in an icky manner. Also, it kind of feels gross to say in your mouth. Apparently “oi” is a nasty dipthong.

    Hey, one of your links mentions my local paper! And one of my local celebrities! How funny is that?

    Here’s my problem. I LOVE WORDS. I don’t want us to get rid of a single one. I think we need ALL the words, the gross ones, the pretty ones, the long ones, the short ones. I think we need both “trousers” AND “slacks.” I think it’s amazing that we HAVE multiple words for pants. I even love old words that are barely in circulation anymore. There’s no reason to lose words unless they lose utility, like words for outdated technology or something. I love words more than I love almost anything. This whole thing makes me sad.

    Also, sorry. I adore mayonnaise. But, you knew I would. Since you hate it. It’s the way of the world.

  3. is that cheesecake in that picture?

    if it is then i think it’s the kind of cheesecake i like. usually uk cheesecake is too sweet for me. the only place i know i am going to get CORRECT cheesecake is the brick lane bagel shop.

    i have not been for a long time. when i go, i get the cheese cake, the chocolate cake (again, not too sweet) and an onion platzel, no butter, with salmon and cream cheese. just to give me the strength to resist eating cake in the street.

    erm, what was the question, again?

  4. I want to write a more meaningful reply but I’m already hungry, and looking at your cakes is just making my mouth water, and now I can’t stop thinking about cake. Your cakes even. I remember the lovely “Kuchen” you served us when we visited. So now I want some, right now!
    In this slightly feeble state I can only add that I must pass this post on to Teawench. Teawench loves words. She has a thing for words. I believe she actually uses them daily. So, now I”m off to find her and show her this post!

  5. Is that we come to hate words or what the words represent? Mayonnaise doesn’t seem that troublesome as a word, although its disgusting as a food. You haven’t succumb to the German habit of dipping your pommes in it yet? My German husband does this, much to my arteries’ disgust.

    “Moist” I can understand, because it feels icky in your mouth as you say it. I personally dislike the word “narrowly,” because I can’t seem to say it without sounding like Elmer Fudd. This is particularly troublesome because of the frequency with which the word comes up Iegal arguments – especially those I’m forced to make outloud.

    But, the words that I think suck are the ones we use to “properly” describe male and female anatomy. Who came up with those? We’re they purposely made to sound so … repulsive … as they leave your mouth? (No double-entendre intended. Sort of.) Poor wordsmithing those medicine folk. Almost as bad as lawyers …

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