April 08, 2004

Week of Loathing (Day the

Week of Loathing (Day the Fifth): The Word "Moist"

Ever have a word just stick in your craw? For some reason, no matter what you do, the term simply won’t sit right with you? We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” certainly know of such a word: “Moist.”

And yes, we recognize that “moist” need not refer to sexual matters: It can just as easily describe, say, brownies as it can, say, Marv Albert. Still, for no apparent reason, the appellation rubs us the wrong way.

This is all particularly inexplicable, given the fact that “hoist”—surely a phonetically similar example of verbiage—doesn’t rankle us at all. Even “boisterous,” which roughly starts out the same, leaves us feeling flat. But go so far as to say the word “moist,” and at least 47 percent of the crack young staff at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” will purse their lips as if they have just swallowed a lemon—or seen Journey in concert.

We know, dear reader, what you are thinking: The crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” although purporting to be bold, is merely a rag-tag bunch of tyros, incapable of stomaching a painful turn of phrase; why, back in my day, I had to tolerate such linguistic indignities as “higgledy-piggledy,” “sassafras,” and “cuckold.”

To which we, the crack staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” reply: Hey, man, ease off a bit; words can sting. Moreover, you’re totally off base, dear reader, as we can put up with a goodly number of locutions that would irk the average Tom, Dick, or Harry.

To wit, we are entirely untroubled by “blotchy.” We collectively scoff at the crotchety sod who shivers at the word “pilsner.” And “crapulous” only slightly perturbs us—and for obvious reasons.

We can even handle most of those infuriating neologisms that the postmodern crowd coins with regularity: “problematize” and feckless use of the plural in such words as “feminisms” don’t burn our britches more than, say, “hybridity,” although the last term inspires multiple feelings in us.

And we can even stomach what must be the most fearsome phrase in the history of the English language: “Andrew Lloyd Webber.”

But, for whatever reason, “moist” makes us shudder. It’s the linguistic equivalent of Mickey Rourke. It’s Webster’s Dictionary meets Tipper Gore. It’s just disgusting, and we’d really appreciate it if you didn’t use the term at all. Unfortunately, a quick check of the staff copy of the revised edition of The New Roget’s Thesaurus has left us with a panoply of replacements that bother us almost as much as “moist” itself: “damp,” “humid,” “drizzly,” “drippy.” And what the heck is “irriguous”?

Let’s just hope it never rains.

Posted at April 8, 2004 12:07 AM | TrackBack