We’ve never been entirely sure why the word “moist” makes us want to throw up in our mouths, but it does. Fortunately, the good people over at The Psych Report have figured it out and, guys, they have confirmed that the word is indeed disgusting. HAZZAH!
While the word moist can be used to describe a soft chocolate cake, or a delish burger, it can also be used to disturb, annoy and even provoke most people. Myself included.
Paul Thibodeau and his colleagues set out to determine why the word makes people so uncomfortable. They went deep into the moist conundrum (well that just sounds f***** up, my bad) and spent four years working with 2,500 participants to find out just how prevalent the aversion to the word “moist” is… and why.
18% of the surveyed group defined themselves as "categorically averse" to the word. Women, younger people, and those with more education were especially likely to find the word unpleasant. However, politics, attitudes towards sex, and religion had no effect. Naturally, other words including racial insults and swear words produced a more negative reaction than “moist.”
There are four factors that contribute to why we find it so upsetting:
Sound: Certain sounds are inherently unpleasant, like fingernails scratching a chalkboard. If a word just sounds plain awful, we hate it.
Facial Feedback: If other people continuously make disgusted faces when hearing the word, we can develop an aversion.
Connotation: If a word is associated with something people find disgusting, like phlegm or vomit, they won’t like the sound of it.
Social Transmission: A word can seem upsetting if people keep saying it is. So when everyone else is saying “moist” is gross on social media and in pop culture, we start to think it is.
Our aversion to the word is apparently a combination of connotation and social transmission. So, we have the scientific proof that it's gross (YAY!), but people can still say it whenever they want (BOO!).
Look, if it can be used to describe both a sweaty armpit AND delicious chocolate cake, then I don’t think it deserves to be a word.
Now, please excuse me while I go throw up in the corner. This was not pleasant to write.