Share on Facebook

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.

1 / 6
MoistPhoto: Shutterstock


Seventy-seven per cent 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.”

Plus: Why Women Make the Best Bosses, According to Science

2 / 6
SquirtPhoto: Shutterstock


“‘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.”

The most complicated English word is only three letters long.

3 / 6
PantiesPhoto: Shutterstock


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.”

The average Canadian has a vocabulary in the thousands. Try these tricks to make sure yours stacks up.

4 / 6
ChunkyPhoto: Shutterstock


“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.”

Plus: 17 Words Even Smart People Mispronounce

5 / 6
CurdPhoto: Shutterstock


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.

These 15 redundant words make you sound ignorant.

6 / 6
FlapPhoto: Shutterstock


Twenty-two per cent 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.”

These 10 slang words from the 1920s are very, very weird.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest