Archive for May 2009

Words we love and hate

May 23, 2009

Via Boing Boing, I read an article about English words people commonly like or despise. It’s a fascinating read.

Strangely, at least to me, “moist” tops the list of unpleasant words, particularly among women. I have known women who have expressed this opinion. The author of the piece speculates that the “oi” sound is a cause; both “goiter” and “ointment” are also in the “unpleasant” list. But, what about “joy?”

This leads to another interesting point. Some words are rated based more on their sound, such as “mellifluous,” and some on their meaning, like “hate.” I have a hard time keeping those factors separate, too. Plus, some words are just fun to say, such as “serendipity,” while others are unpleasant to hear, like “like,” “whatever,” and “no.”

I enjoy playing with English, so this article sparked my interest. Naturally, the commenters added their opinions, and I soon found one of my least favorite words: “utilize.” The unpretentious verb “use” can be substituted in every instance I have yet found.

“Paradigm” seem to me another word in search of a use. “Model” works just fine, thank you. I think I have a low tolerance for speakers who try to impress or intimidate their listeners with such bombast.

Finally, a few words that I just like for no reason: jumbo, ersatz, silly, esoterica, sweet, imbue, and cheese.