Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Words That Suck

Words are awesome. I love words. A lot. Like, more than just friends.... Just thinking about words gives me pressurized nosebleeds. Back in the day when I still had to do vocabulary assignments in school, I'd read the lists aloud to myself, quivering with euphoria and drooling over the words like the creepy pervert I am. If you've ever wondered why it takes me so painfully long to say anything, it's because I always jump at the chance to use as many words as possible; this stuff is like crack for me. Keeping that in mind: There are some words that just suck. There must have been one day where the entire committee for making sure that English doesn't suck came to work completely hung over and managed to let a whole festival of cringe-inducing words slink past the radar. Really though, I don't know whose fault it was, but if I had a time machine, I'd use it to go back in time, find those people, and punch them. Over the past while I have been carefully compiling a list of the words that make me personally want to throw up and/or punch baby seals, and I feel as though I am now ready to share it with you and attempt to explain why they are so terrible. Here it is.

Erin's list of words that suck and need outlawed immediately:
(Keep in mind, this is merely my personal list. Feel free to disagree or form your own)

1. Moist : adjective
slightly wet; damp or humid.

From what I can tell, a lot of people really hate this word. And why shouldn't they? It's creepy. It sounds like it was invented by a panel of creepy uncles for the sole purpose of being creepy. It has the power to immediately transport the hearer to a damp basement apartment full of newspaper clippings where the speaker is breathing heavily down their neck. Anyone who needs to use "moist" frequently in common speech should probably be put on some sort of national registry. I don't care what they're describing. If that piece of cake you're eating is "so moist!" then it's creepy cake and I'm going to expect to see it snapping pictures of girls from a basement window sometime soon.

Similarly awful words: Juicy, Lubricant, Slurp, Gleak

2. Flaccid : adjective
soft and hanging loosely or limply, esp. so as to look or feel unpleasant.

This is an awful AWFUL word. Thankfully I don't hear it spoken much, but that doesn't mean it isn't used in writing all the time. No matter what it's applied to, "flaccid" takes the word "limp" and adds an element of... moist... to it. Imagine, if you will, an empty glove hanging over the arm of a chair perhaps in a way that looks slightly awkward. Now, if I tell you that the glove is flaccid, I dare you to try to keep that glove in your head from suddenly becoming damp, slimy, or breathing, and possibly trying to violate you in some way.

Similarly awful words: Cuckold

3.Fecund : adjective
producing or capable of producing an abundance of offspring or new growth; fertile.

Of all the words I hate, this one may be the worst. I don't actually know how it's pronounced, but that doesn't matter because any possible pronunciation of this word that I can think of is just terrible. Imagine taking a step onto something you though was solid ground, but instead sinking knee deep into something warm and mushy, the smell of which makes you really prefer not to know what you're standing in. Now imagine trudging through a humid marshy area full entirely of that substance... Add a few thousand minuscule, squirming life forms to the whole mess and you've pretty much got an idea of what I imagine every time I encounter this word.

Similarly awful words: Gonorrhea, Larder

4.Gullet : noun
the passage by which food passes from the mouth to the stomach; the esophagus.

If you've ever attempted to gag down something whole and slimy like a raw egg without chewing, you were putting it down your gullet. That is the only way the pathway from the mouth to the stomach can ever be described as a gullet. Think about turkeys, swans, and geese... If you've ever watched them eat, they snap the food up, then throw their head back and gag it down almost invariably. These animals have gullets. If you want to write about somebody shoveling food down his gullet, the mental image is going to be of him horking food down like a turkey. "Gullet" is even a perfect description of the low gagging sounds one might make in such a situation. No small wonder it makes me want to blow chunks... and Speaking of which...

5. Chunk : noun
a thick, solid piece of something.

Sweet mercy, this word is nasty. While I love things like cottage cheese and tapioca, actually thinking about the small pieces, or "chunks," that make it up is more than enough to turn my stomach. Any dubious substance, once receiving the description of "vaguely chunky," becomes infinitely worse. Even the idea of taking a "chunk" out of something feels gross. That chunk is almost assured to be dripping with something unpleasant, be it lard, blood, or vague translucent 'eww'. If I were to offer you a "chunk" of chocolate, I'm betting it'd lose its appeal pretty fast. Then again, that's just me...

Similarly awful words: Globule, Polyp, Lump

6. Comfy : adjective informal
comfortable.

I have no quarrel with the word "comfortable." It's quite nice, actually. It's just when it gets taken the one extra step too far that it hovers on the line between annoying and creepy. Annoying because it sounds 'cute' -- I take issue with making words cutesy by shortening them and tacking a 'y' on the end -- it's like something your squishy great aunt who thinks you're still five would say. Creepy because it goes a bit too far beyond soft and comfortable. Imagine your squishy great aunt pulling you into a big warm squishy hug. Nice enough, yes, but now imagine that you're beginning to sink into the soft rolls of her skin, being consumed by the warm folds, and realizing far too late that you are being drawn deeply into a comfy prison of aunt flesh, never to be seen again.

Similarly awful words: Weenie, Guppy, Brownie

7. Loaf : noun
bread that is shaped and baked in one piece and usually sliced before being eaten
-OR-
verb
idle one's time away, typically by aimless wandering .
I'm not entirely sure I know how to justify my hatred for this one. It's just an unpleasant mush of sounds that strikes something irrational in me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Try saying it aloud slowly and maybe you'll see what I mean.

Similarly awful words: Hoi Polloi, Glean, Goober

8. Luscious : adjective
having a pleasingly rich, sweet taste : a luscious and fragrant dessert wine
-OR-
richly verdant or opulent.

It seems as though words describing the quality of food somehow manage to end up under the umbrella of terrible words a LOT. If I were to take a big bite of a peach so that peach juice and saliva were dribbling down my chin, and then I began to describe to you, with my mouth entirely full, how good the peach is, THAT would be comparable to what the word "luscious" is like. And if you ever use this word to describe a person, I'm pretty sure it counts as sexual harassment, a physical threat, or both. You may be prosecuted.

Similarly awful words: Scrumptious, Succulent, Yeasty, Crisp


9. Supple : adjective
bending and moving easily and gracefully; flexible .

This is the sort of word that almost makes you feel perverted just for using it. I'm convinced that the most common usage of this word is in depraved fanfiction to pad out disturbing and unnecessarily detailed descriptions of young girls. The second most common usage would be in the basement lairs of wheezy, twitchy maniacs with beady eyes who blink too much and whisper disturbing and unnecessarily detailed descriptions of the young girls they have tied up in the corner. Beyond that I think it's used to describe young trees... in disturbing and unnecessary detail.

Similarly awful words: Lush

10. Sessile : adjective
fixed in one place; immobile.
I had never even heard this word until my good buddy Beth brought it up when I was helping her review for a test for her class -- which was bizarrely titled "Living with Plants." If there's something I've come to learn, it's that plant words always seem to come across as vaguely sexual, usually in the creepiest possible way. A lot of the words on this list are like that, which makes me think that plant scientists are kind of perverted. This word takes on the same sort of tone as "flaccid," and manages to be uncomfortable in exactly the same way.

Similarly awful words: Cockle

11. Flesh : noun
the soft substance consisting of muscle and fat that is found between the skin and bones of an animal or a human. (Oof... even the definition sounds horrible)
If we were to lump together all the words on this list that might be used by clammy weirdos to describe something disturbing, they would likely all fit nicely under the gross word-blanket of "flesh." "Flesh" is a vast umbrella of terrible that can conjure up all sorts of scarring images. Mostly I think it's used by serial killers but it can also pop up in the work of pretentious writers who are trying to be poetic but inadvertently manage to give horrific connotations to their descriptions of fruit at harvest time. Basically any horrible skin-related thing you can think of falls nicely under the shadow of this word.

Similarly awful words: Goiter, Carbuncle, Loins

12. Facetious : adjective
treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant.

This is a word whose suckitude is far removed from it being in any way unsettling. The reason this word it terrible is because it's pretentious. I can't tell you how many times I've had somebody say to me (after I've called them on a particularly dumb statement) "I was being facetious." I would like very much to punch these people. If you feel the need to inform somebody that you were being facetious, you're obviously not doing it right. Perhaps there's some sort of deeper reason behind my hatred, but all I know is that this is the sort of word that one might hear of the type of wormy know-it-all that I used to beat up in Elementary school.

Similarly awful words: Peeve, Sumptuous


So there you have it; my personal list of words that I believe should be outlawed.
Now that you're good and horrified, let's all wash the taste out of our brains.
Here are some words that do not suck:
Afoot, Scalliwag, Constable, Silly, Anaphylaxis, Skirmish, Luminious, Transcendent, Nebulous, Eponymous, Outlandish, Cavelier, Ubiquitous, Scoundrel, Antelope, Caribou, Cortex, Obsolete, Diabolical, Basilica, Stigma, Facade, Contessa, Conundrum, Incredulity, Enigma, Grumble, Voracity, Boistrous, Tomfoolery, Galumph

Feel free to comment with your own terrible words and reasons for hating them. Always fun to know what my readers are thinking.

8 comments:

misssrobin said...

Wow. Now that's a list.

Ugly words: any term for gentalia; words made up from a combination of other words (chillax, fantabulous, ginormous).

Great word: indefatigable.

The Erin said...

Oh yeah. I definitely agree with your choices of ugly words.

Woah! Indefatigable is an AWESOME word!

Meg said...

I find myself most often disagreeing with your "similarly awful words" with the exception of loaf and facetious. Loaf I probably like because I associate it with my cat (when she tucks her paws and tail in she becomes a catloaf). Facetious is a fun word. The problem is that people use it incorrectly. They're not being facetious, they're being stupid; even more so for thinking they're being facetious. And I don't hate luscious.

Flaccid might be my least favorite word. Also any word meaning to regurgitate (including that one).

Great word: susurrus (also, susurration). I can't decide whether mellifluous is great or horrible. Also, I like any word that sounds like it would sound if it did, in fact, make a sound. Like glint. Or glitter. Or glisten. Usually they are visual effect kinds of words. And they don't all start with "gli," I promise.

Devin said...

A word that sucks: suck.

An awesome word: succubus.

Jessica Grosland said...

I also like words that "sound like [they]would sound if [they] did, in fact, make a sound."

LIST: Snicker, blather, knife, smirk, cringe, flail, yawn, sparkle, grass, twirl, and phlegm.

D Cerveny said...

Hrmm, perhaps I shouldn't admit how many of those words I use regularly.

word I like: soporific

word which is fun to pronounce. Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia

Racher said...

Come on Erin...I think you need to give some of those words a fecund chance. :)

I'm so glad you're back!!!

Steph-a-Neph said...

Well I use at least half of those on a regular basis. It's a wonder you don't beat me up every time we talk, especially considering that I'm mostly sure I've told you I was being facetious more than once. From now on, you have my permission to punch me if I tell you that again (although I prefer it to not be in my face area).

Words I don't like, simply because they're stupid:
Stupid, fork, ugly, sponge, resume (and resume; pick your pronunciation), spork, spoon (any word referring to silverware or cookware in any way), jelly, couch (I mean, really. A blob of sounds. Gross), and And. That one is the most irritating one of all.

Words I like for the heck of liking them: supercalifragilisticexpialidotious, pleasurable, excited, anyhoo, lawl, doctor (that one is just fun to say over and over again), tree (with an extra emphasis on the eeeee's), antidisestablishmentarionism (a super complicated word that means 'rebellion'. Much more fun to say), marvelous, specific, pudding.

The End.

Also, ukulele. It's fun to say, spell, look at. Try not to love it. I dare you.